History Wins, Business Loses

History Wins, Business Loses

Running a business in the Old and Historic District presents certain challenges.

Silhouette, a hair salon at 470 S. Washington Street in Old Town, lost a battle to history on Saturday.

The City Council upheld a decision of the Board of Architectural Review for the Old and Historic District and refused to allow Silhouette’s owner, Pari Pavari, to remove a transom from her doorway to make it taller.

“Right now, the door is only 70 inches tall,” said Ray Lewis, an architect who was asked to look at making the doorway taller. “That means anyone who is six feet tall is going to bang their head on this doorway. There are ways to improve the situation without making structural changes to the door frame.”

Pavari took pictures of several similar establishments in Old Town where there have been modifications to doorways. “I found many examples of changes that have been made,” she said. “Also, I just want to make the door taller. I don’t want to change the way the door looks. None of my neighbors have any problem with what I am asking to do.”

The Board of Architectural Review was unanimous in its denial. “These transoms are part of the charm of these historic houses,” said Tom Hulfish, speaking on behalf of the BAR. “They are part of the character of the building.”

Councilman Rob Krupicka summed up the council’s concerns. “I am going to vote to uphold the BAR on this matter but I am going to do so reluctantly,” he said. “I do not like to make it difficult for small businesses to operate in Old Town and, it would appear from the pictures that the owner has provided, the rule is not being applied evenly with regard to these types of doorways. However, it is clear that the doorway is part of the historic building and that we should not allow it to be modified,” he said.