Group seeks new historic district

Preservation commission outlines area important to city’s manufacturing past.

Posted by PM on January 12th, 2012 1:48 pm

Group seeks new historic district
Preservation commission outlines area important to city’s manufacturing past.

Burlingon Hawk Eye

Buildings where decades of work was performed by thousands of Burlington-area residents are near recognition at the state and federal levels through designation as a Manufacturing and Wholesale Historic District.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to submit the proposed district to the State Historical Society of Iowa for final consideration following a public hearing in which no one spoke for or against the proposal.

If approved by the state office after a hearing Feb. 10, the application will be sent to the U.S. Park Service to be reviewed for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The proposed district includes several large warehouse and factory buildings in an area along Valley Street, from Third Street to Fifth Street, and south on Third Street to Elm Street.

The district would include 32 buildings primarily related to the manufacturing and wholesale history of Burlington from 1876 to 1962.

Some of the key businesses that operated in the proposed district were the Chittenden & Eastman Co., a furniture manufacturer and wholesaler, Iowa Biscuit Co., Midwest Biscuit Co., Gardner and Gould Candy Co., Clinton-Copeland Candy Co., S.R. & I.C. McConnell Co., a wholesale saddlery, Churchill Drug Co. and John Blaul and Sons wholesale grocery.

If approved at the federal level, buildings in the district will become eligible for state and federal historic preservation tax credits and state matching grants up to $45,000 for improvements that comply with state and national historic preservation guidelines.

Approval at the federal level is expected in May or June this year, according to Rebecca Lawin McCarley, an architectural historian with SPARK Consulting in Davenport.

McCarley began work in June to prepare the application under a grant the HPC received from the state historical society. She gave the public hearing presentation on the proposal Tuesday.

“You really have a great collection of large industrial and commercial buildings that even larger cities don’t have intact anymore,” she said.

The district would become the sixth in Burlington.

The five current districts on the National Register of Historic Places are the Snake Alley Historic District, approved in 1975, the Crapo Park Arboretum Historic District, approved in 1976, the Heritage Hill Historic District, approved in 1982, the Starker-Leopold Historic District, approved in 1983, and the West Jefferson Street Historic District, approved in 1991.

HPC chairman Steve Frevert said the city has received another state grant to begin work this year on an effort to get the remainder of the downtown area included either in an existing historic district or a separate one, depending on the research findings.

Inclusion on the National Register does not place any restrictions on current or future property owners unless they seek state or federal grants or tax credits.

The members of HPC – David Roed, Hal Morton, Frevert, Georgette Allen, Inez Metzger, Angela Adams and Cathy Gordon – along with volunteer Mary Toal did the extensive historical research on each of the contributing buildings for the district’s application.