Downtown Washington district added to National Registry
By Xiomara Levsen
The City of Washington’s Historic Preservation Commission will have something to celebrate at Thursday’s Farmers Market.
An 11-block district of downtown Washington has been added to the National Registry of Historical Places, said chairperson Mary Patterson.
“The listing on the national registry is primarily an honor,” Patterson said.
She just recently found out about the National Parks Service decision to list downtown Washington.
“I first found out at the end of May,” Patterson said. “There is a weekly announcement of all the properties in the United States that were approved in the previous week.”
She wasn’t expecting the decision to come so fast.
“They had told us it would be late summer or early fall, so it took me by surprise,” Patterson said.
An announcement of the listing on the National Registry of Historical Places will be made on Thursday evening during the Farmers Market, again at 6:30 p.m. and during the municipal band concert, Patterson said.
The application was sent to the state historical society in February, Patterson said. After two changes were suggested, the state historical society sent it on to the National Parks Service in Washington, D.C., where the decision was made.
The downtown district is listed under two criteria. The first is for the commercial and governmental center of Washington and the second is for the commercial architecture, said SPARK Consulting’s Web site. SPARK is the firm the commission has been working with during the application process. A map of the district is available on the Washington Public Library’s digital resources Web site.
This has been a big commitment for the five commission members. They have been researching and working on the application for over two years, Patterson said.
“We did 790 hours of volunteer research,” she said. “There were 160 properties to research just in our 11-block area. Some of them had a lot of information and some of them are very sparse.”
Their work began in 2011. The commission applied for a grant to start the research for the nomination process. The grant was from the Historic Resources Development Program (HRDP) for about $20,000.
There were a number of steps the commission had to do to get the registry listing.
First the volunteers went to the library and researched newspapers from late 1856 until 1968, Patterson said. Also, the commission contacted SPARK Consulting of Davenport to help them decide what they should research and the application process. The final step was submitting the application for recognition.
Now that this project is done, Patterson is looking toward the future. She said the commission is working on another grant to begin another application process.
“I have applied for an additional grant to do a residential neighborhood, but we won’t know until the first of July,” Patterson said. “Well, it includes the west side neighborhood.”
The west side neighborhood would include Main, Washington, and Jefferson streets, and Sunset Park, Patterson said.