Leesburg BAR Rejects Replacement Windows in Fire Renovation

After weeks of deliberations, Leesburg’s Board of Architectural Review voted to require Michael O’Connor to replace four windows that were installed during repairs to his fire-damaged building at 11 S. King St.

The first floor of the building was the former home of Caulkins Jewelers. The new tenant is Black Hoof Brewing Company.

The BAR’s certificate of appropriateness authorized most of the repairs that have been made since the 2015 fire, involving the replacement of more than two dozen windows and several doors. Board members last month raised concerns that the work was done without review for conformance with the historic district’s architectural guidelines.

Since then, talks have focused on four windows in which sashes with four panes over four panes replaced windows that had two panes over two panes. O’Connor said he was unaware that two-over-two windows were on the building’s street-front second story until the town’s preservation planner presented images taken from Google Earth’s street view that showed the originals.

“These windows were done in good faith. They are perfectly good windows,” O’Connor said.

He said the new windows are similar to many seen on downtown buildings, but a majority of BAR members said the two-over-two windows were historically significant and should be retained.

Saying he would comply with the board’s determination, O’Connor characterized the replacement requirement as an “unnecessary aggravation.”

“Any cost is substantial when you have a tragic four-building fire, especially for work that is already complete,” he said Tuesday. He said the town would be pleased with the look of the buildings once repairs are complete.

“We could have put a blue tarp over it and put a ‘for sale’ sign on it and walked away,” O’Connor told the BAR. “We haven’t skimped on anything.”

Crews begin work on repairs to the fire-damaged building at 11 S. King St. on Aug. 2.
Crews begin work on repairs to the fire-damaged building at 11 S. King St. on Aug. 2.

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