Weekly Feature

2018-02-14 / Front Page

Commission considers study of historic neighborhood

‘First Ward’

The North Tonawanda Historic Commission is looking to designate an area — once called the city’s First Ward — as a historic district.

Early on in its history, North Tonawanda established lumber as its primary industry, and the boom years of the trade occurred around approximately 1870, according to the commission.

“There was a lot of lumber of all kinds and a lot of lumber companies,” said Rae Proefrock of the North Tonawanda Historic Commission. “Big Victorian homes were built, and within them lumber from all over the world with beautiful woodwork.”

According to the commission, the Lumber Baron Historic District was mostly developed between approximately 1880 and 1970. The southern border of the district is a block away from the Erie Canal and Tonawanda Creek.

The district includes one of the earliest remaining residential sections of the city, which sprung up to accommodate the growing city of merchants and lumbermen.

Some of the streets in the area include Christiana Street; Goundry Street; Tremont Street, which is a two-way street; and Vandervoort Street, also a two-way street.

Three years ago, an initial survey of the area was done by a professional consultant. Proefrock said many of the houses were researched, including dates and history, and the boundaries of the district were determined.

Now, the commission is looking for a grant to pay for a consultant to complete the survey and nominating research for the state and National Registry of Historic Places.

Proefrock noted that the city is having its grant writer complete the application for the grant itself, which is due by the end of March.

Proefrock was co-chairwoman of the commission at the time the group agreed that the historic designation was the next step. The designation would have benefits to the homeowners and the city.

“It adds a level of significance to a section of the city that is recognized around the country, but it also makes that area more appealing to certain buyers. In the end — eventually — it’ll maybe raise the value of homes,” Proefrock said.

According to the Historic Preservation Office, “owners of income producing real properties listed on the National

Register of Historic Places may be eligible for a 20 percent federal income tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of historic properties.”

Also, it would mean that both interior and exterior work performed must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and be approved by the National Park Service.

email: aderosa@beenews.com

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