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Guidelines for Preservation & Rehabilitation

From simple cottages to stately Queen Anne structures, most German Village houses have a common feature: their gray limestone foundations. Some are just a few inches above ground level; others are over three feet high. Whether rough or cut stone, these foundations have become a prominent architectural feature. Combined with the Village's abundance of brick buildings, its limestone foundations add contrast and visual texture.

Village builders used limestone from the Scioto River area north and west of downtown Columbus. This attractive limestone is particularly rich in fossils, and when properly cared for, it is a good supporting stone.

Projecting stone bands known as water tables are commonly used as decorative features; they also divert rainwater away from foundations. Most foundations have windows or grilles to provide light in the basement or crawl space and to create an air flow to keep it dry.

1. Keep vines and plantings off foundation walls because they can retain moisture; their roots and stems can also damage masonry joints.

2. Keep soil, mulch, firewood, and other items from piling up against a foundation wall because these, too, can cause moisture problems. Make sure the ground has a slight slope away from the foundation.

3. Avoid painting foundation walls; instead leave them their natural stone color. The contrast of their light color with darker brick or painted siding is an original design feature in the Village.

4. If basement windows are to be covered, avoid filling them permanently with brick, stone, or concrete block. Instead, use wood panels fastened to the window framing, or replace the window glass with a wooden or metal panel painted to blend in with the foundation color.

5. Be sure grilles are kept clear of obstructions, and be sure to provide ventilation if basement windows are covered - such as using a louvered vent in a wooden window covering. Leave grilles in place, even if the openings are blocked in.

6. Be sure that downspouts are connected to underground drains, or that they have extensions or splash blocks to keep water from pouring into the ground adjacent to the foundation. Conduct regular inspections several times a year.

7. Stone foundations should not be covered with stucco. Not only does this dramatically change their appearance, it also can lead to problems with trapped moisture and may accelerate stone deterioration.