Archive for Friday, July 30, 2004

National historic districts OK’d in Lawrence

July 30, 2004


Four areas of Lawrence that date to the city's earliest settlers are among the newest additions to the National Register of Historic Places.

The four districts are:

  • The Hancock Historic District, roughly along West 12th Street, from Oread Avenue to Mississippi Street.
  • The Downtown Historic District, generally along Massachusetts Street between Sixth and South Park streets.
  • Pinckney I Historic District, roughly bounded by West Fifth, Tennessee, Louisiana and West Sixth streets.
  • Pinckney II Historic District, roughly bounded by West Third, Louisiana, West Fourth and Mississippi streets.

"Most of the area that those include are all some of the early settlement places here in Lawrence, part of the original town area that was first platted after the territorial era," said Helen Krische, archivist and exhibit coordinator at the Watkins Community Museum of History. "It's an early part of Lawrence."

One of the ideas behind the designations is to spur rehabilitation of deteriorating properties in and around the districts. Properties within the districts are eligible for tax credits when they are remodeled.

For the Pinckney Neighborhood, getting to this point has been a bumpy ride. There have been a few vocal members of the neighborhood opposed to the designation.

Pinckney Neighborhood Assn. President John Pepperdine said during the nominating process there was misinformation being spread about restrictions placed on properties within the districts.

"So we held a series of meetings telling people its not telling you what color of paint you can use, its not telling you (that) you can't expand and all these other things."

In addition to tax-credit eligibility, placement on the national register comes with restrictions on development within the "environs" -- 500 feet -- of the listed properties. Any activity that requires a building permit within those districts, even on buildings that aren't themselves historic, is subject to review by the city's Historic Resources Commission.

The Pinckney Neighborhood, which is within the "environs" of the Old West Neighborhood, has been subject to the restrictions for years without any of the benefits, Pepperdine said.

"That's the ironic thing about it ... people are already affected by this historic district, they're already in it, and you can see it hasn't been a problem," said Pepperdine.

As with the Pinckney Neighborhood, many business in downtown Lawrence have been subject to restrictions without the tax incentives.

"We welcome it and are thankful for it," said Maria Martin, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

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