Thursday, May 23, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
State Historic Preservation Office historian Ian Johnson, right, and administrative specialist Tracy Zeller take stock of buildings near Third and D Streets Aug. 10.
September 18, 2012
INDEPENDENCE -- From its place on the Oregon Trail to its agricultural heritage, Independence has always worn its history on its sleeve.
Because of the collection of 19th and 20th century buildings in the community, officials sought and received 23 years ago federal approval to create a historic district that encompasses 39 blocks at the east end of town.
Old and storied structures aren't limited to those boundaries, however, and the city is trying to create an updated inventory with the help of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
Historians toured neighborhoods in August to note what else is out there, examining the appearance, external materials and architectural features of structures to determine whether they qualify as historic resources.
"Some buildings have been torn down and there are others that weren't historic back then that could be considered that now," said Michael Cairns, Independence Historic Preservation Commission member. "We thought it was a good time to take a look at what we have."
The survey, in and of itself, is only a survey; there are no plans to try and expand or reduce the size of the historic district, said Shawn Irvine, Independence economic development director. Such districts usually have regulations and standards on home renovations and improvements.
"That said, the information gathered could be used to do that in the future, with the regular public process that goes along with it," Irvine said.
A report and recommendations are expected in October.
SHPO officials looked at about 100 buildings within a block or two of existing current boundaries, which run between Main and Ninth streets east to west, and Butler to E streets north to south. The district covers buildings erected between 1869 and 1940.
Cairns said when lines were being drawn back in the late 1980s, it was advised that a district should cover mostly sites with a high percentages of historic homes.
"We have some houses on Gun Club Road that are well over 100 years old," Cairns said. "I've personally owned two houses in Independence that are historic, but just outside the boundary."
Ian Johnson, a SHPO historian involved in the survey, said Independence had a variety of architectural styles in its downtown area, with an abundance of craftsman bungalows and Colonial revival homes.
Johnson said one way Independence differs from other communities is that most of its historic homes are clustered together.
"You see the same kinds of buildings here in other towns in the valley, but you usually don't see the concentration all in one place," Johnson said. "Independence is noteworthy for its collection."
Irvine said the survey will be incorporated into an Internet project the city has undertaken; officials plan to include every historic home on a web-based map.
"There will be clickable icons and each property will have current pictures, architectural information, who (of historic note) lived there and what businesses were there," he said.