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Berlin historic commission approves siding for Main Street home

Members of the Berlin Historic District Commission have voted to approve cedar impression vinyl siding for a Formstone home on South Main Street.

Berlin siding

A Formstone home is pictured on Main Street in Berlin.
Submitted photo

By Charlene Sharpe, Associate Editor

Historic district officials have approved vinyl siding for a Formstone home on Main Street.

The Berlin Historic District Commission recently voted unanimously to approve cedar impression vinyl siding for a Formstone home on South Main Street. While the homeowner initially wanted to add siding to just the damaged areas of Formstone, commission members said the whole house needed to be done.

“It’s going to have to be the whole house in order to secure the house,” commission member Mary Moore said. 

Susan Wellman and Brittany Wellman approached the HDC last week seeking permission to add cedar impression vinyl siding to two sides of the Formstone house at 312 S. Main St. Susan Wellman said she’d talked to numerous contractors and masons when she realized she needed to address the failing Formstone on two sides of the house.

“There’s nobody alive that does Formstone anymore,” she said. Instead, she proposed replacing the areas with damaged Formstone with vinyl siding that looks like cedar shake.

Commission member Laura Stearns said she sympathized with Wellman but pointed out the house was historic and on Main Street. 

“We have to make sure we make the right decision,” she said.

Stearns said she was worried that the house would look piecemeal with two sections covered in siding while the rest remained Formstone.

“I just feel like it all needs to be done at once,” she said.

Wellman said she couldn’t afford to do it all. Stearns maintained that members of the HDC were selected to protect the town’s historic areas.

“Being on the historic district isn’t the easiest because it doesn’t win friends,” she said.

Commission member Mary Moore said she agreed with Stearns. She said that because the Formstone was failing on more than one side, it was likely it all needed to be replaced.

“Who’s to say the front doesn’t start falling off?” she said. “We can’t have it look like a patchwork quilt.”

Commission member Carol Rose referenced the trouble Rayne’s Reef had when its owners tried to address failing Formstone. She said the home’s Formstone was old.

“It’s probably all compromised,” she said. 

Wellman maintained that she didn’t have the money to demolish the Formstone all over the house and replace it with siding. Commission member Brian Robertson asked if potentially installing siding over the Formstone was an option. Other commission members urged Wellman to talk again with contractors regarding options.

“You don’t want to destroy a nice Craftsman home,” Moore said.

Brittany Wellman said she would talk with the contractor again and asked if the commission would approve the cedar style siding if it was for the whole home. Stearns said she wasn’t opposed to that but felt that the commission should have further review of the details and trim that would accompany the siding. 

“It would have to look like the era,” she said.

Stearns made a motion to approve the addition of new cedar style siding to the whole house and to continue the discussion of the front detail work. The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion.

This story appears in the April 25, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.