6 Reasons To Live In A Historic Apartment Building

While historic apartment buildings have been around for close to two centuries (the earliest tenement in New York City dates to the 1820s), they really started to take off in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As city populations boomed, the need for concentrated housing in dense areas became imperative. Now, people choose apartments over a house for many reasons. These reasons include lower rents, less maintenance, and prime locations. And while newer apartments may have amenities absent from older buildings, there are many benefits you can derive only from living in a historic apartment. We’ve compiled a few reasons why we prefer living in a historic apartment to living in a newly constructed one.

1. Historic structures have irreplaceable character.

The decorative finishes on historic structures continue to impress. Intricate baseboards, parquet floors, and ornate decorative details from innovative products like terra cotta and cast stone create visually pleasing places to live. It’s hard to replicate that kind of quality in modern construction, where efficiency and cost effectiveness are often prioritized over aesthetics. Additionally, commonplace building materials to us used to be novelties. They were used in creative and innovative ways that often give historic structures unique qualities. Think cast iron, concrete, and masonry veneer. These are mundane today, but originally they were often used to simulate more expensive building techniques. As such, they maintained a level of craftsmanship and style sometimes lost in modern construction. Check out some of the historic features at The Principal Residences.

2. Historic apartments typically feel more soundproof than in modern construction.

One of the most noticeable differences between historic and new buildings is that today, doors do little to soundproof a space. Primarily, today’s doors include materials such as fiberglass, a lightweight, fireproof, and inexpensive material. This material, as opposed to historic building materials such as solid wood, lacks in soundproofing. If your concern includes always hearing what’s going on in the hallway, or you simply prefer to avoid noise distractions, living in a historic apartment with older doors is one way to prevent that. Secondly, efficiency in cost and labor in modern construction led to the standard wall being made of wood or metal studs and drywall. These materials fail in soundproofing when compared to a solid brick wall or a plaster coating.

3. Living in a historic apartment feels like taking part in a history lesson every day.

Early buildings constructed to house a large number of people in a small footprint were often cramped, dark, and prevented circulation of air flow. Starting in big cities like New York City and Chicago, architects began to play with layouts. This eventually created unique buildings with center courtyards to draw in light and air. They adapted standard masonry construction techniques so that skeletal framing systems could make way for taller, lighter, and airier buildings. By living in a historic apartment, you live a part of that history lesson. Learn more about the history of Davy Crockett Elementary School here.

4. Historic apartments are often in city centers or other desirable areas.

While modern apartment complexes are also frequently built in city centers, older apartments contributed to urban growth. Often, they are already located in great areas that have established parks, shops, and communities. While new construction looks for these locations to add to, historic apartments have the advantage of already being there. Learn how you can help build Dallas’s newest dog park, right nextdoor to The Principal Residences.

5. You become part of the preservation community by living in a historic apartment.

If your building’s historic character lands it on a list like the National Register, or the location involves a historic district, you inherently become part of the preservation conversation in your community. Often, historic apartment complexes will have a board or a group focused on the preservation and maintenance of the structure. By joining it, you can be an active participant in the conversation and have a say in the preservation of your neighborhood.

6. Historic structures present more opportunities over their lifespan.

The Principal Residences, for example, started as a turn-of-the-century elementary school. Since it had excellent bones, renovations allowed for its later transformations into its current iteration as an apartment building. Like The Principal Residences, historic apartments have much of what people want today in their living space. Moreover, these features include innate character, quality building materials, and a foundation to use the existing fabric to create spaces that adapt to people’s needs.