Lewes Historic District has visible garages

July 31, 2014

While I fully support the efforts to keep the Lewes Historic District "historic" in nature, I am at a loss to understand John Mateyko's remark that there are no front facing garages within the historic district when immediately next to the lot sits a home clearly with a front facing garage. I would also point out that the garage door is significantly larger than one which would accommodate a "carriage or Model T Ford."

I have experienced a long history with historic commissions through my previous career in Maryland, and while I recognize that the position of one who chooses to contribute to the preservation of the historic process as a commission member is often a thankless one, it still seems to me that the end result can often be very "subjective" in the final determination of what is approved and what is not.

My personal experience includes a process in which I served as a expert witness for approval of a commercial building in Montgomery County, Md. The process included numerous denials throughout a nearly four-year period only to have the final approval mirror the initial submission by 90 percent of it's architectural appearance. I have not seen nor do I have an understanding of the "modern" nature of the drawings which may be in and of themselves reason for denial.

That said, to hang the denial on the garage issue appears to be a bit specious. I drive Front Street every day and there appear to be many properties which have garages facing the street. I should also point out the wonderful Blacksmith Shop on the corner of Chestnut and Third Street - well off Front Street with its wide open garage doors many days of the week. I actually find it attractive.

Whether they serve as attached or rear yard detached, these garages still have the same effect on the street view which I have always understood is the purpose behind maintaining the "historic" nature of dwellings and/or commercial establishments.

I chose Lewes as my home in part because of its quaint nature and am committed to helping maintain that nature though the land use process, but perhaps Front Street is the exception to the rule that controls the balance of the historic district. At any rate, the commission would do well to revisit the concern with a garage. As Shakespeare noted: "A rose by any other name is still a rose."

Ron Ladue

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