SPRING CITY—The Spring City Historic District is maintaining its integrity and significance, but changes may need to be made, a preservation consultant along with staff from the Utah State Historic Preservation Office (USHPO) told city leaders and residents last week.
The historic district was established more than 40 years ago. Some time ago, the USHPO recommended that the city reevaluate the district, and the city agreed it was time to do so.
Roger Roper, Utah historic preservation officer; Craig Paulsen, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission; and Peter Goss, retired professor of architecture at the University of Utah launched what they termed the “National Historic Register District Update.”
The project was to include submitting an updated nomination for historic designation to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The update was funded with a Certified Local Government Grant from the USHPO and a 50% match from the Friends of Historic Spring City.
Korral Broschinsky, a preservation documentation professional, completed the review and presented her findings at the public information meeting on Friday, Jan. 21.
At the meeting, participants mentioned their appreciation for her time and efforts, particularly working on the updated nomination.
Broschinsky said the Spring City Historic District is experiencing preservation challenges. Some buildings are being demolished, others need improvement, and “new and improved” houses from recent years affect the integrity of historic areas.
Originally, 77% of the houses and other resources within the district boundaries were historic, a high ratio that clearly supported historic designation. However, there is now a 50/50 split between contributing and noncontributing buildings, due to new things being built and historic outbuildings being demolished.
This 50/50 split raises a question as to whether the city has maintained its historic integrity, USHPO officials said.
Broschinsky said that to make sure the district remains eligible for historic designation, changes need to be made.
The city can do one of four things: adjust the boundaries and leave out some areas now within the boundaries, count significant outbuildings as “primary resources,” strengthen the areas of significance by restoring more buildings or extend the “period of significance” to 1972. In other words, buildings built as late as 1972 could be defined as historic.
Broschinsky said she dived deeply into her “kitchen sink research;” in other words, “anything and everything” she could discover about the city’s history.
She started with Kaye Watson’s book, Life Under the Horseshoe, a book Broschinsky described as “just wonderful to be able to have…as a resource.”
Compared to other local histories she has read, Broschinsky said, “Kaye’s was able to really build up a picture of what the physical city looked like over the years.”
An overview of the history of Spring City shows a large array of historic buildings, which, because no major thoroughfares went through the town, survived in their original form. Broschinsky believes this array is the key to establishing the significance of Spring City in the nomination document.
Broschinsky wasn’t the only one who was looking for ways to increase the number of qualifying buildings. One individual asked if new houses built to look historic would qualify. Broschinsky answered that unfortunately, these would be non-contributing since the criterion for a historic district is that buildings must be 50 years or older.
Amber Anderson, USHPO liaison, said there are many state and federal tax credits to assist in rehabilitating residential as well as income-producing buildings.
USHPO representatives emphasized that being in the historic district is an honorific designation and does not determine what Spring City residents can or can’t do with their own properties.
The state officials said the designation does not affect residents negatively; rather, it offers financial benefits and community bonding. Many restorations and community improvements have been made possible due to Spring City’s standing as a historic city.
For example, the city received a $26 million grant for flood abatement, which will prevent future damage not only to the historic buildings but to all structures in the city.
The review of findings shows that Spring City’s historic integrity has diminished with the changes that have taken place over time. Yet Broschinsky and other members of USHPO are looking at ways to ensure the designation stays the same. Their final research submission will be a 30-page narrative making the case that Spring City still has the integrity as a historic area of national significance.
As Brochinsky put it, “Everybody loves to stroll through Spring City.”
An update on the new nomination will be provided to the city council in mid-June or July.