U.S. Army proposes innovative solution for historic housing

By U.S. Army Public AffairsOctober 28, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Department of the Army recently notified the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) of the Army's intent to request a "Program Comment for Army Inter-War Era Historic Housing (1919-1940)" in order to efficiently rehabilitate historic homes while preserving their historical integrity.

"The Program Comment for Army Inter-War Era Housing is the Army's top historic-preservation priority," said Alex A. Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. "It will help improve quality of life, health and safety for our Soldiers and families living in thousands of historic housing units while improving Army compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act."

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to identify and assess the effects of projects carried out on historic properties, in consultation with stakeholders, to identify ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate adverse effects. This program comment will address all 2,700 Inter-War Era Army housing units built between 1919 and 1940 programmatically, as a group, instead of addressing each one separately. The Army Quartermaster Corps led the design and construction of housing during this era and adopted standardized housing plans from the nationally popular Colonial Revival design style.

Recognizing the inefficiencies in reviewing each project for each housing unit separately, the Army determined that a program comment was the best Section 106 programmatic-compliance solution for Inter-War Era housing. This program comment addresses all management actions (maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, renovation, abatement, demolition, replacement, transfer, sale and lease) for Army Inter-War Era housing, associated structures and landscape features.

The Inter-War Era program comment will also identify mitigation measures, including the use of industry-standard and imitative materials that replicate historic design elements. Replacing historical materials (such as lead-based paint), which could potentially be hazardous, with modern, industry-standard, replica materials will mitigate health and safety risks while preserving the historical and architectural character of the housing.

The Army's notification to the ACHP formally initiates an extensive period of consultation with stakeholders. The ACHP is expected to take action on the Army's program comment request in November 2020. With the ACHP's approval, the program comment will address National Historic Preservation Act requirements for Inter-War Era housing Army-wide.

The proposed Program Comment for Army Inter-War Era Historic Housing (1919-1940) follows the precedent set by the highly successful "Program Comment for Army Capehart-Wherry Housing (1949-1962)," which was issued by the ACHP in 2002 (see https://www.achp.gov/success-stories/capehart-wherry-army-housing).

For more information, please contact Lt. Col. Crystal Boring at 703-693-6477 or crystal.x.boring.mil@mail.mil.