Hall Place Historical effort lives

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 4, 2005

Efforts to put Hall Place on the Virginia Historical Landmarks Register aren’t yet history.

But neighbors clashing over whether to seek state and federal historic designations for the tree-lined community near downtown have prompted the state Department of Historic Resources to slow down the effort.

&uot;We’re still working with folks but we are slowing down,&uot; said Marc C. Wagner, the agency’s National Register manager. &uot;We want to make sure everyone is on the same square on what the implications are with the historic designation.&uot;

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State and federal historic designations are mainly about the prestige and recognition that comes with it, said Jeryl Rose Phillips, the city’s plans and policy coordinator. Residents who choose to restore homes in accordance with federal and state guidelines qualify for historic tax credits.

That is different from having a local historic designation, which gives residents strict guidelines for modifying the exterior of their homes. Changes to homes in local historic areas – ranging from types of shingles used, the color of paint or installation of new windows – require prior approval by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

The DHR board was initially planning to review the community’s preliminary application in September, Wagner said.

During the meeting, the state board would have given Hall Place residents recommendations to pursue that would have strengthened their application, he said.

Instead, the agency will work with the city and applicants to educate Hall Place residents on the historic designation process in coming month, Wagner said.

&uot;If a formal nomination is made, it will not move forward if the majority of property owners object,&uot; he said. &uot;That is the bottom line.&uot;

The debate over whether to go historic has pitted neighbors against neighbors and divided the Hall Place Community Association (HSCA). In May, opponents to the historic designation ousted officers of the group.

Walter and Elaine Eason, treasurer and president of the HSCA, are opposed to the designation, mainly

because of the impact it could have on the community.

&uot;Some people in the neighborhood are on a fixed income and just can’t afford to make the improvements,&uot; Walter Eason said. &uot;They live from check to check.&uot;

But the bigger issue is that a few residents submitted the preliminary application to the state without making the rest of the neighborhood aware of it, Elaine Eason said.

&uot;They tried to force the historical thing on the community,&uot; she said. &uot;It was mostly advertised among a small group of people…and when people found out about it, they came out in numbers and voted to stop the application.&uot;

South Main Street homeowner Sharon Harris said people were made aware of the organization’s meeting.

&uot;The historic designation need definitely needs to happen,&uot; Harris said. &uot;The people who are opposed to it are people…who never came to meetings and…they have ragged houses they don’t want to fix up anyway.&uot;