Crown Point has decided to do a feasibility study to determine whether the town should seek federal designation as a historic district.
Crown Point trustees have voted to accept a grant from Preserve New York to contract with the Adirondack Architectural Heritage for a study of the area around Veterans Park.
This is the next step in a process that started last spring when town officials learned the Knapp Senior Center is in need of major repairs. Local leaders hope a formal historic designation may make the town eligible for funding to make those repairs.
The Knapp Senior Center, 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.
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.”
If the AAH study finds support for the historic designation, several more steps are required.
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).
Engelhart believes the Crown Point park area is a good candidate for the historic designation.
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.