Luverne awarded grant to pursue study of historic district
LUVERNE -- With nine buildings already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city of Luverne learned Wednesday it will receive a $16,600 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to evaluate the historical significance of Luverne's downtown commercial and civic core in the hope that an historic district can be established.
Luverne Economic Development Authority (LEDA) Director Holly Sammons said the grant will be used by Twin Cities-based consultants Laura Faucher and Will Stark to survey and analyze the buildings beginning Nov. 1.
"It will take them a few months to survey and research the 16-block target area. At the conclusion, they will know if our district is deemed credible for recommendation to the National Register," Sammons said.
If the report is favorable, Sammons said the second phase would be to nominate the portion of the 16-block area that is deemed to qualify as an historic district to the National Register of Historic Places. That process would take a few months, so it could take six months to a year before the designation is actually made.
There are several benefits to establishing an historic district, Sammons said, adding property owners can access a 20 percent federal and 20 percent state tax credit on any rehabilitation efforts needed on contributing buildings within the core district.
"Another benefit is to protect the assets we already have," she said, adding that a review board would be established to have a say in any rehab work planned in the district.
"If someone wanted to come in and tear a building down on Main Street, that would have to be approved by the board," she said. "We're trying to create that protection of investment to keep those historic buildings around and to fix them up so they can remain there."
Another reason for wanting the historic district designation is to create a unified set of standards of appropriate alterations to buildings so that historical characteristics can be preserved.
Between 35 and 45 buildings within the core area will be evaluated for their significance, including several Main Street buildings, Sammons said.
Establishing a district has been one of the goals of Luverne's Heritage Preservation Commission, a six-member board that was established in April.
"This is our first step, taking inventory of what we have and deciding where to go with it in the future," Sammons said.
The nine buildings in Luverne already on the National Register of Historic Places include the Hinkly House, Carnegie Library, Gerber House, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Kniss House, Palace Theater, Rock County Courthouse and Jail and the Omaha Depot (which is not included in the 16-block district).
Luverne was one of more than 80 entities from 37 counties across the state to be awarded a grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage program for 2012-2013. In all, $10.5 million in grants were awarded to projects "that preserve and share the state's rich history and cultural heritage"
The grants are made possible by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, which supports efforts to preserve Minnesota's land, water and legacy, including state history and cultural heritage.
"These projects will enhance access to history for all people now and in the future," said David Grabitske, Minnesota Historical Society's manager of outreach services, in Wednesday's announcement. "Accessibility means that people will be able to use the power of Minnesota history to transform their communities."
In this latest round of grants, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) awarded 56 mid-size and large grants of more than $7,000 each; and 33 small grants (up to $7,000).
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.