State approves three new Greencastle historic districts
Apparently state historic preservationists have realized what Greencastle residents have known for years -- the city has some fine old houses and historic neighborhoods.
Officially, three such areas -- Old Greencastle, the Eastern Enlargement and Northwood Subdivision -- have been approved by the Indiana State Preservation Board as historic districts.
That action Wednesday afternoon means they will be added to the Indiana Registry of Historic Places and state officials will forward them to the National Park Service with a recommendation they be added to the National Registry of Historic Places.
Old Greencastle is the area west of the courthouse square, bounded by Poplar Street on the south, Gillespie Street on the west, the railroad tracks on the north and Jackson Street on the east.
The Eastern Enlargement is, as the name suggests, the area to the east and south of the downtown, encompassing the most historic homes within the friendly confines of Greencastle. Of 295 possible structures, 270 within the Eastern Enlargement were identified as contributing to the historic designation of the area.
In Old Greencastle, that figure was 79 out of 97 structures, a number skewed by the U-shaped nature of the area that excludes the site of the more-modern Moose Lodge properties.
Northwood Addition, an area platted in the 1920s, had 110 qualifying structures out of 112 possible contributing structures.
"People tend to think of historical areas in terms of being 100 years old or more," Bonnie Yahraus of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County noted. "Northwood may only have been platted in the 1920s, but it is seen as being similar to the Meridian Hills area of Indianapolis."
The Putnam County application received the highest score of any submitted in the latest round of historic consideration, noted Phil Gick, president of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County and himself owner of the historic Sunny Hill home at 911 E. Washington St.
Gick was in attendance for the state group's decision Wednesday at India-napolis, along with John Warner, the contractor who put together the nominations for HPS, and Paul Champion, an HPS Board member.
"I can tell you the fact that letters had been received in support of each of the districts was noted," Gick said of the community support for the effort.
"It was also noted or posed as a inquiry -- why there was such a burst of activity from Greencastle," Gick added. "I told them that this was just one manifestation of our increased sense of community, noting the selection of Greencastle as a Stellar Community as another example."
The state board member who raised the question, Gick said, then proceeded to openly commend the community for its preservation efforts and related activity.
And city officials were quick to return the favor.
"Sincere congratulations to HPS for having the drive and vision to move this effort forward," Mayor Sue Murray said Thurs-day. "There is much to celebrate."
The advantages of the historic district designations, Gick said, include possible tax benefits for residences and other economic pluses, along with providing some protections against actions by other departments. The designation does not, Gick stressed, limit the property owner's options.
A public presentation, led by Warner, will focus on the three historic district nominations, beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, May 2 at City Hall. It will be the first of a series of May Preservation Month events the HPS will be sponsoring.