March 21, 2010

Historic recognition sought for Ti downtown

Town applies for place on National Historic Register


TICONDEROGA — The history of downtown Ticonderoga could earn it a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

An application to create a historic district is being prepared by Adirondack Architectural Heritage Executive Director Steven Engelhart at the request of the town and Pride of Ticonderoga.

State grant
Pride Executive Director Sharon Reynolds said they're using $10,000 left over from a $150,000 State Quality Communities grant awarded to the Town of Ticonderoga a few years ago.

"It's an enormous effort. The district would be on Montcalm Street from Black Watch Library and the Cummins House to the 1888 Building (Museum), and up Champlain Avenue on both sides to the old railroad depot."

One of the buildings downtown, the Ticonderoga Agway, was built in 1879 as a grist mill on the LaChute River and could be the oldest commercial structure in Ticonderoga. It is one of 12 buildings in Ticonderoga already on the National Historic Register, Reynolds said, and Pride previously secured matching funds to fix it up.

"We did stabilize that building. It has a new roof, a new canopy."

Group effort
She said Pride, the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership, Adirondack Architectural Heritage and the town are all backing the effort to create a historic area downtown.

"This whole district is up for nomination in and all the good things that could come from it. Being in a historic district is a very positive thing. It's basically a marketing tool."

Engelhart, whose group is based in Keeseville, has been in Ticonderoga securing information for the historic district application.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Ticonderoga's history, architecture and people better through this process," Engelhart said.

"Collectively, a historic district must have a high degree of integrity, and most buildings need to be 50 years old or older. In addition to their architectural character, it is important that so many of the Montcalm Street buildings are connected to Ticonderoga's history and economic life."

Reynolds said Pride has accumulated the information that Engelhart needs.

"A huge analysis was done on the buildings for Pride. AARCH is able to look at that."

She said 32 buildings would make up the historic district, and so far she has nine letters of support from building owners with more coming. Seven buildings in the district are already on the National Register. No one has had a negative reaction to the concept, she said.

Engelhart said the historic district would make building owners eligible for tax incentives and loan programs. He said there would be no government controls on property usage in the district unless someone entered into a funding program that had restrictions.

Reynolds said they may have money available for repairs or façade restoration when the district is created, but they wouldn't impose any severe restraints.

"The restrictions are minor. We may recommend a color (for a building), but that's all. You may want to make these kinds of repairs to your building."

The National Historic Preservation Act established the National Register of Historic Places and the process for listing properties on it that are qualified for preservation. There are more than one million properties on the National Register, 80,000 listed individually and the rest within historic districts.

Reynolds said Engelhart has been doing a fabulous job so far putting together background information on the history of the downtown.

"I'm excited about it. He put a soul into the district. It is a special place to be."

She said Ticonderoga's business district has much to offer, and a streetscape project now under way will further beautify it.

"You have a river, a walking trail, a park with a waterfall. It's only going to get better as we get the streetscape done."

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