Commission looks at registering downtown as a historic district
The City of Washington Historic Preservation Commission would like to invite any interested local residents to a public informational meeting on the proposed Washington Downtown Historic District and the National Register of Historic Places. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in the State Bank Room on the second floor of the Washington Public Library. Property owners and other interested residents are encouraged to attend to learn more about nominating the potential historic district to the National Register of Historic Places and the benefits of listing. This meeting will serve as an opportunity to answer questions as well as an opportunity to gauge public support for the proposed nomination.
The proposed Washington Downtown Historic District includes the blocks immediately around Central Park and the blocks to the north along Second Street, as well as some adjacent properties. The historic district would include 119 historic buildings in the downtown area. While the majority of these buildings are commercial properties, a number of churches and government properties are also included. A map of the proposed historic district will also be available at the meeting.
The City of Washington Historic Preservation Commission received a Historic Resource Development Program (HRDP) grant through the State Historical Society of Iowa in August 2011 to research the downtown buildings and nominate the potential historic district. Project consultant Rebecca Lawin McCarley, an architectural historian with SPARK Consulting in Davenport, was hired in August 2011 and began the nomination process. Several local volunteers contributed time researching the history of the individual buildings and the businesses in the downtown. This research was documented on Iowa Site Inventory forms, which include extensive history on each property within the boundary. This history is summarized in the National Register nomination.
The Washington Downtown Historic District would be the first historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Washington. However, nine individual buildings have been listed on the National Register.
Building owners in the proposed Washington Downtown Historic District and other interested residents are encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more about the financial incentive programs available to building owners of properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places and other benefits of listing.
McCarley will present information on these programs at the meeting.
According to Mary Patterson, chair of the City of Washington Historic Preservation Commission, establishing the Washington Downtown Historic District would recognize the area’s historic significance, spur reinvestment in the historic buildings and enhance possibilities of heritage tourism. Several property owners in the areas have already indicated their interested in pursuing federal and state rehabilitation income tax credits to renovate their buildings.
McCarley noted that no restrictions or review processes are placed on the properties listed in a National Register district, unless the owner chooses to use a program’s funds, then, program guidelines must be followed. Otherwise, property owners are still able to do any type of project that they choose without going through any additional review process, including demolition.
The process of nominating the Washington Downtown Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places will extend well into 2013. A public draft of the nomination will be available for review in November. The nomination will then be reviewed officially by the State Nomination Review Committee on Feb. 8, 2013 in Des Moines. All property owners within the proposed historic district have the opportunity to indicate if they support the district nomination prior to that time by commenting at a public hearing and/or officially in writing to the State Historic Preservation Office. If recommended for listing, the nomination will then be forwarded to the National Park Service for formal listing, likely in June 2013.
Residents and property owners are encouraged to register for the meeting on Monday, Oct. 29 to ensure adequate seating and handouts by contacting Mary Patterson, chair of the Washington Historic Preservation Commission, at 319-653-5208 or <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Property owners interested in receiving a copy of the Iowa Site Inventory form with the research on their building should indicate their interest at the time of registration, and a copy of the form will be available for them at the meeting.