German Village Gazette

House newly painted gray prompts questions

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GARY SEMAN JR./THISWEEKNEWS
This brick house at 637 S. Third St. recently was painted gray, raising some eyebrows in the neighborhood.

A newly painted house on German Village's main thoroughfare turned more than a few heads recently.

Jon and Jenny Barnes, in attempt to preserve the brick of their rental property at 637 S. Third St., painted the house a distinctive gray.

It's not the only brick house in the Village -- and certainly not the first on Third Street -- to have a different hue, said Sarah Marsom, historic preservation advocate for the German Village Society.

But what caught some Villagers off-guard was the bright, snowflake-white primer that preceded the final coat, she said.

Residents contacted the Society because there was uncertainty as to whether the owner had made a Certificate of Appropriateness application through the German Village Commission, which is required for exterior work in the historic district, and why the process was approved in the first place.

In fact, the project had received all necessary signoffs, Marsom said.

"It just stuck out like a sore thumb," she said. "I'd say most people in German Village go down Third Street on any given day and because it's a thoroughfare it garnered a lot of attention."

The Barneses purchased the 1,728-square-foot house more than 10 years ago.

Mrs. Barnes said it had been in her family for decades. She said her family has strong ties with the Villageand claims her father, Robert Corotis, is credited with helping name German Village.

She said she was unaware of any controversy.

"We had a real interest in preserving it and keeping it nice for a long time," she said.

The couple, former German Village residents, now live in Upper Arlington.

Mr. Barnes, an architect in Columbus, said the house dates back to the mid- to late 1800s.

During a recent remodeling effort, workers power washed the exterior, which brought to light an issue with the mortar work.

Mr. Barnes said that sometime over the years, a black tarlike substance was added during tuck-pointing work when a new layer of mortar was added. It was unsightly and gave the house an odd appearance, he said.

The only reasonable alternative, he said, was to paint the remainder of the house, a significant portion of which already was painted, but toward the back and away from the public view.

Barnes said many property owners in the Village have taken the same course of action because the other option is to tear the house down and start over.

"The thing about old buildings...you can't make a new building look old," he said. "Part of that is because you can't make bricks like they did in the 1800s."

Although, he said, he doubts if the entire Village, renowned for its naked brick facades, will be painted over.

"Certainly ours is an exception," he said. "I've never seen that kind of black mortar before, after 20 years of working in the Village.

"What we wanted to do was clean the building but we didn't have the option."

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