By RICH PLACE
A fourth historic district in the village — known as the Fiddlers Green Historic District and encompassing a small section of North Buffalo and Franklin streets — will be considered by a state board in mid-June for nomination to the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
The consideration comes fresh off the announcement earlier this year that a third region earned the Historic District designation. That approval, of the West End Historic District, joined the East Hill and East Main-Mechanic Street historic districts, which were added in 2015 and 2002, respectively.
A letter to Springville Mayor Bill Krebs from R. Daniel Mackay, deputy commissioner for historic preservation and deputy historic state historic preservation officer, in early April notified him the Fiddlers Green Historic District will be considered by the New York State Board for Historic Preservation on June 7.
The region being considered includes 65 to 85 Franklin St. and 23 to 37 North Buffalo St., according to the registration form submitted to the state for nomination. Included in the designation are Goddard Memorial Hall, the Presbyterian Church, Lucy Bensley Center, Springville Center for the Arts, the Springville Post Office, the Municipal & Fire Hall Building and Fiddlers Green Park.
According to a narrative submitted to the state as part of the registration form, the Fiddlers Green area “represents the core of early development” in the village. The area differs from Main Street to the south because of the “blend of distinguished and historic green space, churches, gathering spaces, and civic structures” in the area.
The civic-mindedness of the area — especially with buildings like the town hall, municipal building and post office — make the Fiddlers Green Historic District different than the East Hill Historic District, for example, which is historic due mostly to its residential architecture.
The potential of adding this fourth district represents a potential end — at least for the short-term future — of the village’s applications for historic districts, Krebs said. It’s a process that started in the mid-90s and was re-energized in the early 2000s with the fire at the historic Leland House.
Although the East Main-Mechanic Street Historic District had been approved a few years before, the Leland House fire in 2006 eventually led to the village creating its own historic commission.
“After the Leland House (fire), there was a great deal of interest in it,” Krebs said. “We passed our historic preservation law in the village, started a commission, we defined a local preservation district.”
So why designate parts of the village historic?
For starters, there are financial incentives, Krebs said. Residents can get up to 20 percent tax credit for certain improvements to their property, and it’s even higher for commercial buildings. Plus, it helps when entities in a historic district apply for grants.
“That is another very important thing for the village as a whole, to show that we have aggressively pursued historic preservation and we’re interested in keeping our community vital through that,” Krebs said. “That has helped us with the grants that we have gotten.”
Aside from the financial aspect, designating a district as historic also preserves it and helps prevent demolition of long standing buildings. Krebs noted it helps reduce the likelihood of “gaps” downtown, for instance, where a building is demolished and a parking lot or something else is put in its place.
A press release issued by the village following the approval of the West End Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places said designation on the National Registry is “honorific” and said no mandates are placed on building owners unless they choose to participate in the tax credit program.
“Springville’s Historic Preservation Commission has aesthetic approvals on certain building improvements in the Local Historic District which overlaps part of the districts on the National Registry,” the release states.
A comment period remains open until June 6 for those who would like to state whether or not the Fiddlers Green Historic District should be nominated to the National and State Registers. Comments can be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Peebles Island State Park, P.O. Box 189, Waterford, NY 12188-0189.
The village has uploaded the entire application document — including photos and a detailed history of the Fiddlers Green Historic District — on its website, villageofspringvilleny.com.