Historic Preservation Complements a Green Renovation

A three-fold philosophy guided this project from its inception: 1) to protect and restore the historic architecture for future generations; 2) to be as environmentally conscious as possible; and 3) to accomplish both while using the most current technology available. Our goal: to create a place where our guests would find all the conveniences of a large, modern hotel while still enjoying the charm of a historic inn. Our challenge: to preserve the historic character of the King’s Daughters Home while adapting it for an entirely new use.

In 1925, the Sheltering Circle of Durham broke ground for the second King’s Daughters Home, the 17,000 sf brick Colonial Revival building we see today. Though it may seem residential, thick, load-bearing masonry walls and an internal armature of steel columns and beams reveal its institutional roots. Eight foot wide corridors, twelve foot ceilings, six foot tall windows, a 600 sf parlor, and an 800 sf dining room create a gracious sense of scale reflecting both its age and original function.

The historic elements we restored and preserved include the two story box columns of the front portico, monumental arched windows, a grand staircase with second floor balcony, original doors with working transoms, heart-of-pine floors, fireplaces with marble mantels, plaster moldings, and even push button light switches with brass cover plates. With the exception of one wall, the existing layout remains, thus preserving the original corridors, parlor, dining room, and sun porch.

We also maintained the original circulation pattern. By combining and connecting adjacent rooms, we consolidated the original 29 bedrooms and 6 shared bathrooms into 17 suites and rooms with private baths. What could have been seen as a limitation – working strictly within the confines of the existing layout – actually made each of our rooms completely unique.

Though historic preservation focuses on protecting our architectural past whereas green building emphasizes the current and future impact of a building on its environment, the two practices complement one another perfectly. Both rely on the lightest touch possible.

We believe Historic preservation is, in fact, the ultimate form of recycling. Adapting existing buildings saves the raw materials required for new construction, keeps demolished materials out of the landfills, and, in most cases, supports the local economy more directly than new construction. For instance, restoring original windows is essential from the preservationist’s viewpoint, but it also turns out to be more environmentally sustainable than window replacement and can be just as energy efficient. A water source heat pump - the least invasive option available - circulates water through pipes (not air through ducts) to provide individual climate control for each room or suite. Not only is it the most efficient system but it is also the most environmentally friendly.

While carefully preserving the visible historic elements, we have completely upgraded the invisible, behind-the-wall systems and integrated cutting-edge green technologies: a 10,000 gallon cistern and a rain garden to collect roof storm water run-off and avoid using public water resources to maintain our landscaping; a parking lot made of pervious concrete, so rain water is absorbed into the ground, instead of draining off the site; an ultra-high efficiency water heater and a gray water system that cleans and recycles the laundry water to flush the toilets; a fully integrated energy management system; and many other green technologies. You can read more about them in our Sustainable Lodging section. We hope that our guests will be inspired by seeing how seamlessly green technologies can be woven into everyday life.