Our historic places are a vital part of our community, and tell the story of who we are and how we lived. They are the concrete links to our history, and the physical representation of the people and events that shaped our unique past. Older buildings reinforce a sense of community because the buildings provide continuity and serve as repositories for shared experiences.
Communities that retain their historic character and vibrant commercial areas attract businesses, young working people, families, and empty nesters because of the variety of work spaces, housing choices, cultural attractions and entertainment available. The purpose of historic preservation is not to freeze buildings to a certain time period, but instead to sensitively evolve them as times change. By establishing a local historic district, we are able to protect the integrity of these important buildings, while allowing for changes to make them useful.
In December, 2010, the City Council voted to establish the Downtown Coldwater Local Historic District. This district is composed of approximately 130 resources, over 80% of which have historic value. The process for establishing the Local Historic District took over six years of work by City staff and local volunteers, and involved a complete survey of every property within the proposed district. The district boundaries roughly correspond with Clay Street, Jefferson Street, Church Street and Pearl Street.
The main purpose for creating this district is to protect the historic character of the area by preventing inappropriate alterations, construction or demolitions. Other benefits of creating a Local Historic District include stabilizing property values, enhancing the City’s heritage tourism, and making historic property owners within the district eligible for state historic tax credits.
When the Local Historic District was created, the City Council adopted an ordinance which gave local legislative bodies the legal ability to regulate the construction, addition, alteration, repair, moving, excavation and demolition of resources in a local historic district. A Historic District Commission, composed of local residents, was then established to serve as an architectural review committee for the purpose of reviewing work affecting the exteriors of buildings within the district.
Only exterior changes to a property in the Local Historic District are reviewed by the Historic District Commission. Some examples of work that would require a review by the Commission:
When the Commission makes their review, they follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. These are ten broad guidelines that apply to all types of structures. To understand more about them, go to: www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/tax/rhb
A completed application for project approval needs to be submitted to City of Coldwater staff before any work begins, materials are purchased, or applying for a building permit. An application is available for download here. The HDC staff liaison, Keith Baker, is available by phone or email to provide guidance through the application and review process as well as offering advice on appropriate work. Once the application is received, it may be approved directly by staff. More complex projects will be reviewed by the Commission at its regular monthly meeting, held the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located on the second floor of the Henry L. Brown Municipal Building. Deadline for applications is the previous Monday at 5 p.m.