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Historical Restoration Project Not Exempt from ADA Accessibility Requirements
May 28, 2013
At issue in Davis v. John S. Ciborwski Family Trust was Phenix Hall, a historic building in Concord, New Hampshire. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Phenix Hall was the site of theater productions, local fairs and political speeches in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including a speech by President Lincoln in 1860. It now houses several retail stores. The owner of Phenix Hall, the John S. Ciborwski Family Trust, decided in 2010 to restore the storefront to its original historic appearance. The project included replacing the steps at the entrances, replacing and centering the doors, removing the then-existing 1950’s façade and restoring the original granite façade, as well as clean-up and painting of various exterior elements. Plaintiffs filed suit under Title III of the ADA against the Trust and the retail establishments located in Phenix Hall. In deciding cross motions for summary judgment, the Court held that the 2010 renovation was an “alteration” as defined by the ADA.
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