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Historical Commission takes dim view of vinyl windows
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FILE PHOTO: David Baird - photo by Lisa Hobbs

Vinyl windows are not historic, according to the Tennessee Historical Commission, and their use in buildings could be detrimental to the entire historic district.


Community Development Department director David Baird asked the question, “If we were to make a decision to permit some vinyl windows within our Historic Zoning District, do you know of any grant opportunities that business owners would no longer be eligible for?”


That questioned was asked to Ellen Hurd, certified local government program coordinator with Tennessee Historical Commission.


Baird relayed the question and Hurd’s response to city Historic Zoning Commission members.


“It would likely disqualify them from the federal Historic Tax Credit, Tennessee’s Historic Development Grant, and our office’s Historic Preservation Fund which prioritizes properties that are owned by a nonprofit or a local government,” said Hurd.


Hurd said the use of vinyl windows in a historic building would make it ineligible for National Register of Historic Places consideration, and having such buildings within the city’s historic district would make the entire district ineligible for the National Register.


“McMinnville’s downtown is not currently listed on the National Register,” said Hurd. “Eligibility for the National Register requires both historical significance and integrity – how closely a resource retains its historic appearance. Replacement vinyl windows would adversely affect integrity. This would likely make individual buildings not eligible for the National Register, could make the district not eligible, and would therefore impact eligibility for the above grants.”


Cost, efficiency rating, and maintenance issues are some of the main reasons property owners favor vinyl windows. However, history enthusiasts discourage the use of vinyl windows and encourage the preservation of existing wooden ones.


Historic Zoning Guidelines do not prohibit the use of vinyl windows and numerous buildings in the historic district have vinylwindows.Commission members were considering a change to guidelines to allow vinyl windows on the second floor of buildings.


No action was taken to amend Historic District Guidelines.