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Do I have to be historically correct when renovating140 y/o house?

In 2000 we purchased our home which was built in 1865. The original part of the house was built for a family with little money and the mouldings, stairs and so forth are very plain and basic and not exactly true to style. The addition is also very plain. The homes in our riverfront town vary from the elaborate homes of ship Captains to the smaller less ornate homes built by the ship's workers.

Somewhere between the 1970's and 1980's this house became a rental home. It took much abuse. The people who owned the home before us purchased it in 1995 "as is" and did as much work as they could considering they had 3 kids under age 5. My husband and I have been working on the house and have also spent the past 7 years trying to find some sort of information on the house. Unfortunately the information we have come up with provides us little information about whether the plain jane mouldings are original.

Here is my question...do we have to stay historically correct to the original plain style as opposed to what the typical homes of this style normally have when renovating this house? We are told by the Historical Society the home itself is a hybrid Federal/Folk Victorian. Our stairs are original but the Newel Post and balusters are Craftsman Style and probably renovated during that era. We want to stay as true to the house's architectural style as possible to retain/increase it's value. Will adding details (mouldings/chair rails) to the house to match it's Federal/Folk Victorian styles and mouldings even though the interior details of the house have always been far less than a house of it's style since our original owners did not have the means to add them?

Re: Do I have to be historically correct when renovating140 y/o house?

First of all if you are in an historic district, the local historic council will have the rules to which you have to adhere, but most only have say about the exterior. Baring that, upgrading to historically accurate wood work and trim should be no problem and should add some value but perhaps not enough to satisfy a purist. Done correctly most people won't know the difference between old and new. It your house.

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