Inclusion on National Register of Historic Places well worth money and effort

Published 9:54 am Thursday, March 19, 2009

By Staff
Anybody driving down Market Street north of Sixth Street has noticed the line of gorgeous, classic homes that highlight that stretch of road. The homes — mansions, really — stand out for their grace and charm, but they also may be significant because of their relation to American history, architecture, culture or archeology.
The city of Washington has recognized the potential significance of the structures and applied for a grant that might eventually place the homes on the National Register of Historic Places. The grant would help the city prepare an application to nominate the structures for the NRHP.
The city would have to pay about $3,000 of the estimated cost of $7,500 to prepare the nomination application.
It’s well worth the time and money.
The homes, as with their counterparts in Washington’s historic district near downtown, shine a positive light on our pretty town. Few cities our size have the selection of beautifully maintained homes of which Washington can boast. Designating the homes for the NRHP adds another feather in the city’s cap, and we can be proud that our neighbors may gain added recognition.
Homes included on the NRHP are not subject to guidelines governing development and/or rehabilitation. The properties’ owners, furthermore, are not obligated or restricted on using private resources to maintain or alter their properties.
Homeowners also have the final say: If the majority of them don’t want to be on the register, it probably won’t happen, said City Planner John Rodman. Single owners, however, can opt out if they desire. NRHP designation allows property owners to apply for tax credits and grants for their homes.
NRHP designation could also lead to formation of a second historic district in the city. Property owners in historic districts usually face some restrictions on uses of their properties, Rodman explained, but they can potentially obtain federal funding to help maintain their homes.
Designating another historic district would ultimately be decided by the City Council, with advice from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. In our view, anything the city can do to raise its profile without harming citizens should be encouraged.