CROWNPOINT-Crown Point may seek federal designation as a historic district in order to make repairs to the Knapp Senior Center.
The building, located at the edge of Veterans Park, is in disrepair and needs substantial work, Supervisor Bethany Kosmider said.
"We called in a structural engineer to look at it," she said. "There are problems with the foundation that must be fixed."
The century-old building, which serves as home to Crown Point senior citizens, was given to the town in the 1970s by the Masons. The deed requires the town to consult with the Masons before making any changes to the building.
The real issue, though, is money. Kosmider said the town doesn't have the money to make the repairs - which is the reason for the possible historic district designation.
If the area surrounding the park becomes a historic district, it becomes eligible for grant funding, Kosmider explained.
"At this point we're just looking into it," the supervisor said of the designation. "Adirondack Architectural Heritage is doing the leg work. We can opt out at any time."
Steven Engelhart, executive director of the Keeseville-based Adirondack Architectural Heritage, is assisting the town.
"One source of funding identified for this project was historic preservation funding from New York State," Engelhart explained. "In order to qualify for this funding, the building would have to be on the National Register of Historic Places. In discussing this, it also became apparent that several other structures in the vicinity, like the Congregational Church and Hammond Chapel, might also benefit from being listed on the National Register. Hence, the idea to create an historic district."
At this point the town has applied for a grant to hire AAH to prepare a "national register" nomination for the district.
Before a nomination is submitted to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, a public hearing must be held and the town board must approve the application. A majority of the owners of the buildings in the historic district must also approve.
If the nomination is approved by the state, it then goes to the National Park Service for final approval. The entire process takes about two years.
"Crown Point, like many Adirondack and Lake Champlain Valley communities, has a rich history," Engelhart said. "In addition to the historical themes the town has in common with many other communities, like iron mining and manufacturing and agriculture, the town has the great distinction of its 18th century forts (military history) and the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse (lake transportation).
The buildings in and around the village green reflect the town's rich history and the people who made Crown Point grow and thrive," he said. "Most of the buildings in this district are architecturally interesting and noteworthy and represent several different architectural styles - Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Colonial Revival. The buildings and landscapes are also very intact and this makes them worthy and special."
Engelhart believes the Crown Point park area is a good candidate for the historic designation.
"This collection of buildings, structures, and the landscape of the green in the Crown Point hamlet center measure up very favorably with other historic communities in Essex County, including Essex and Westport," he said. "I am very impressed by the handsomeness and quality of the architecture and the things that these buildings tell us about who we are and where we came from."
Other Essex County communities and organizations have used the historic district designation to fund improvements. Examples include Camp Santanoni in Newcomb, the Moriah town hall, the Witherbee Community Building, Frazier Bridge in Ticonderoga, and Fort Ticonderoga.
Besides grants, homeowners in historic districts receive a tax credit that provides incentives for repair and restoration, Engelhart said.
"In addition to the financial incentives, the other primary reason to create this district is to bring greater recognition and prestige to the community," Engelhart said. "The National Register is the list of significant historic properties in the country and National Register listing can help to raise a community's pride and self-esteem, can help to attract visitors, and stimulate new interest and investment."