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story.lead_photo.caption This row of houses on West Circle Drive may form a border on what has been identified as potentially a historic district. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Properties near West Main Street could be placed on the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.

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Potential West Main historic districts identified by survey

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Jefferson City hired Rosin Preservation, of Kansas City, to conduct a historic resources survey on 145 properties, a park and a vacant lot.

Beginning in February, survey information was gathered to help identify whether the three areas — bordered by West Main Street, Hub Street, East Circle Drive, North Circle Drive and West Circle Drive — are historic districts or could be placed on the National Register.

Consultant Emily Lenhausen presented the findings to about 20 Jefferson City residents earlier this month.

Listings were rated by the criteria of architectural diversity (style of structures), diversity of function (use of structures), dates of construction, and architectural integrity (retention of historic structures).

Historic resources must be deemed significant, associated with the life of significant persons, associated with significant events or yield/likely to yield information of importance in history in order to be listed on the National Register.

The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office considers a building to have potential historic value if it's 50 years or older.

In Jefferson City, more than 50 resources are currently on the register.

The West Main Street survey recommended two properties and two districts as potential National Register listings.

In the 1700 block of West Main Street, two homes fit the architectural criteria for potential listings — one an American Foursquare built in the 1920s and the other a Folk Victorian built in the 1920s.

"The resources in the West Main Street historic resources survey represent the development of the city beginning in the early 1900s," Lenhausen said. "The built environment testifies to the rapid residential development that occurred at the beginning to the middle of the 20th century when Jefferson City was expanding to the west."

Tim and Leah Smith own the Folk Victorian home on West Main Street that could be recognized.

Moving to Jefferson City in 1990, they purchased the home and have made minor changes to the interior, Tim said.

The couple plans to continue researching the listing process.

The survey found the area lacked in diversity of function. Most resources in the surveyed area were identified as single-family residential.

The most common architectural form of those homes in the survey area is the Minimal Traditional, with 78 homes modeling rounded arched doors, multi-paned windows and stonework.

The compact homes were developed from Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival styles during and after the Great Depression, Lenhausen said. Fifteen Craftsman/Bungalow styles were identified in the survey area. Craftsman houses were commonly built from 1905-30 with low-pitched roofs and full- or partial-width porches with square piers.

More than 60 percent of structures surveyed are in good integrity, meaning the scale of alterations to the individual buildings were not drastically changed, Lenhausen said.

Integrity does not equal condition, she added. Integrity looks at retaining the historic materials, form and characteristic features, among other qualities.

Eighteen homes received an excellent rating, followed by 99 good ratings, 16 fair and nine poor. Three properties were less than 50 years old and do not qualify for listing.

Walinko Place — including Lavinia Park and a vacant lot — and 12 acres from the 1600 block of West Main Street were identified as the two potential historic districts.

The Walinko Place subdivision includes East Circle Drive, North Circle Drive, West Circle Drive, South Circle Drive and Lavinia Street. Homes in the area were built from post-World War I into the Modern Era, making the period of significance between 1920-64, Lenhausen said.

While surveying the area, she saw a story of determination and focus from the builders. More than 65 percent of the homes surveyed were built from 1930-45.

"I thought it was a great story of how important it was for people to continue living their lives despite the uncertainty that a lot of people were experiencing at that time," she said.

The vacant lot at 1925 S. Circle Drive has historically been vacant, the survey found.

The subdivision would include 102 resources, including the park if placed on the National Register. Significant criteria for architecture and community planning and development would qualify the resources.

Resident Gary Ball purchased his home on South Circle Drive in 1984. The structure was built in 1951.

A former real estate agent, he wants future home buyers and property owners to be informed about what being on the National Register means.

"When new prospective home buyers are able to be educated in what it all means, they're not reluctant to purchase in the area," Ball said.

Listing a property on the National Register does not limit the rights of owners to use, develop or sell their property, Lenhausen said. It does not require owners to maintain, repair or restore, or open their property to the public. It does not automatically prevent public or private projects from happening or provide owners with funding for restoration.

These myths continue to spread through word of mouth, she added.

"A lot of people are just not really aware of how the program works," Lenhausen said. "These are just myths out there, and it's really a valuable program for all of us."

The National Register reviews nominations of properties deemed significant by the nominators. Eligible properties such as fountains, statues and homes are approved. The program also helps historic properties receive preservation benefits and incentives, according to the National Register's website.

"There are benefits to listings in the National Register," Lenhausen said. "Benefits include the honorary recognition of a property's significance to our shared past. A National Register listing can provide information about resources that assists with future preservation planning efforts."

Other benefits include state and federal historic tax credits for rehabilitation of individual structures or those part of a historic district that will preserve the character of the building, Lenhausen said.

SHPO has a role in the review process for the state and federal tax credit programs, said Michelle Diedriech, National Register and survey coordinator with SHPO.

Jefferson City Neighborhood Services Manager Jayme Abbott said there are several steps property owners or the city could take based on the survey results.

The city plans to continue surveying potential subdivisions in the area, such as Sunset Place, Vista Place and Jordans Reel, to identify other historic resources.

"We feel that the area is larger than what has already been surveyed," Abbott said.

To continue the multi-year research, the city plans to apply for grant funds through SHPO in December, she said.

For local recognition, individual property owners could create a local historic district. Residents who want to establish local historic districts can create potential design guidelines to keep the integrity of properties.

Local historic districts or neighborhood conservation overlay districts are approved by the Jefferson City Council.

In areas like the Capitol Avenue Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District, homes that are rebuilt or rehabilitated have guidelines to fit the character of the history in that area.

Individual property owners could also choose to hire a consultant on their own to write a National Register nomination, Abbott said. Nominations are submitted to SHPO, then to the Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, then to the keeper at the National Register at the National Park Service.

District nominations require more than 50 percent of owner support.

Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission Chair Mary Schantz said, after seeing historic buildings and homes destroyed by the May 22 tornado, she hopes residents will feel called to take action in their own communities.

"Jefferson City has a lot of unique, historic districts that could probably quality," Schantz said.

Property owners can also apply for the Landmark Designation Award from the Historic City of Jefferson.

A full report of the survey findings will be sent to the city and the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office at dnr.mo.gov/shpo/survey-eg.htm.

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