Greene’s Jewelers downtown will be getting a new look, with a completely painted facade.

The mainstay at 328 Broad St. won approval from the Rome Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday to whitewash the brick on the lower third of its facade. The color will match the white paint on the upper two-thirds of the store.

The vote to support the project was unanimous, without any controversy, but the request sparked a lively discussion about the merits of painting brick.

Community Planner Brittany Griffin presented a review of guidelines that govern the painting of historic brick. She said traditional paint products fundamentally seal brick. “Historic” brick, primarily handmade, is very porous and susceptible to cracking from any moisture trapped inside once it is painted.

Typical whitewash or lime wash does not seal the brick in the same manner and can easily be removed without damaging the integrity of the brick.

Brandi Townsend asked about the potential for limiting the colors used, which drew a quick response from Griffin. She said state and federal rules that govern historic structures expressly prohibit local governments from regulating color.

Local agencies can only address “materiality,” Griffin said. A local commission can determine whether or not brick can be painted over, because that is a decision on the material used on a building.

Griffin also said that Planning Department intern Grace Gartman has completed an overhaul of the HPC guidelines and was able to reduce the documents from approximately 250 pages to about 70.

“It’s a really good document when it comes to historic buildings,” Griffin said.

HPC members will get the final draft of the revisions within a couple of weeks.

Griffin said she is particularly excited about the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Fall Ramble, which will be coming to Rome Oct. 17.

The one-day event is expected to bring preservationists from around the state.

“It’s really shaping up to be something great,” Griffin said.

Among the places that will be showcased are Chieftain’s Museum in Rome and the Vann Cherokee Cabin and Fairview School in Cave Spring. That make the event a little different from traditional Trust Rambles.

“A lot of times when folks do these tours they focus on historic old homes of the well-to-do,” Griffin said. “These are minorities, Native Americans and African Americans, so it’s a big deal. They are not big Victorian mansions.”

The tour also will spotlight some of Rome’s famous historic homes including Rose Hill, 312 E. Fourth Ave.; the Meyerhardt-Neel home, 303 E. Fifth Ave.; Woodhaven at 412 Cooper Drive and the old Rome Manufacturing/Coosa Slacks building at 210 E. Second Ave.

The Clock Tower and DeSoto Theatre are also on the agenda for the tours.

Tickets for the Georgia Trust Fall Ramble are $50 for Georgia Trust members and $60 for nonmember. They will be available until 2 p.m. Oct. 16 at GeorgiaTrust.org or by calling 404-885-7812.

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