Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

August 11, 2013

Escanaba officials push for national designation

ESCANABA (AP) — Leaders in the Upper Peninsula city of Escanaba are pushing to get part of their downtown listed on the National Register for Historic Places by the end of the year.

“It’s going to fly through in my opinion,” said Bill Rutter, an architectural historian with BB&E consulting of Trout Lake. He worked with a local committee to put together a nomination.

Rutter recently presented the final report on the nomination to city leaders. The register is the federal government’s list of properties considered worthy of preservation because of importance to U.S. history and culture. The designation allows property owners to receive federal tax credits to keep up their buildings.

A state board will review the nomination next month in Lansing and then it goes to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., for a final decision.

The downtown’s attributes are its history, people and architecture, Rutter said.

That includes the House of Ludington, which is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Upper Peninsula. Other buildings of importance are the Masonic Building, the Michigan Theater, the Delft Theater and St. Joseph Catholic Church, he said.

“This is an honorary program to offer tax incentives for owners,” Rutter said, adding that the listing would not affect owners’ property rights.

A total of 185 buildings downtown would be included on the list, he said. Eighty-five percent of those are considered significant to the historic designation and 15 percent are non-contributing because of renovations.

Properties that undergo rehabilitations that retain their historic character are eligible for a 20-percent tax credit. District properties that have no historic significance are eligible for a 10-percent tax credit for maintenance and improvements.

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