Historic preservation is primarily about slowing down the inevitable progress of time, so when Hotel de Paris Museum™ was contacted by the Town of Georgetown’s code enforcement officer and Clear Creek (County) Fire Authority’s fire chief about adding street numbers, we quickly realized we had some important decisions to make.
You see, it does not appear Louis Dupuy’s Hotel de Paris ever had street numbers, perhaps because it has been a Georgetown landmark for over a century. However, modern safety practices dictate buildings be identified in order to reduce response time in cases of fire, or ambulance and law enforcement issues. Fire Chief Kelly Babeon explains, “The time lost looking for locations missing an easily read address number is time lost correcting situations that could well end up with fatal results for the occupants as well as adjacent occupants.”
Mock-up of 4″ street numbers using Helvetica typeface
Georgetown Municipal Code regarding street numbers requires all buildings be numbered according to the Town’s addressing system, and the numbers be “distinctly legible, of contrasting color, at least three (3) inches high and prominently displayed on the building so as to be readily visible from the street of the address.” These qualities are helpful and clear, but when dealing with an historic site one should also consider historic sensitivity, without blurring the present with the past. And, in the case of Hotel de Paris Museum™, making sure the addition of street numbers does not compromise the historic preservation easement administered by the Colorado Historical Foundation or create conflict with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Buildings.
Historic preservation practices allow for the installation of new signage at historic sites. It is preferable to be sensitive to each site’s particular past while indicating the addition of a new sign is not of the past. Therefore, in the case of street numbers for Hotel de Paris Museum™, painted numbers would continue the tradition of painting on the hotel’s stucco exterior, as was done with Louis Dupuy’s crossed flags and banner mural and the Burkholders’ dining room and office sign.
Louis Dupuy’s painted mural
(Courtesy of Synergy Photographics)