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In with the old: City applies for historic grant

History has been made in the 25 years since Newberg last took inventory of its significant older buildings. That’s why the city’s Historic Preservation Commission has submitted an application for a state grant to take stock of the city’s historically valuable structures.

If approved, the grant money would go toward a project to update the city’s historic resource inventory in the downtown area. About 30 properties are designated as historic landmarks in the downtown district, but that may have changed since 1990.

“We’d review the existing ones and make sure they should still be there, since some may have deteriorated,” said Associate Planner Steve Olson. “Probably the existing ones are fine, but there may be other buildings that are now eligible.”

At 50 years old buildings qualify for historic designation, meaning there could be some buildings from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s that have come of age since the last survey.

The grant money would total about $13,000 and would require a match from the city. This amount would mean a lot for the commission as it could hire an expert on historic preservation to assist in locating new potential resources.

The project would also include shooting new photographs of historic properties, entering existing and new property information into a computerized database, and potentially developing maps and walking tour brochures to make the historic areas more accessible to the public.

If qualifying buildings are located the property owners can apply for landmark status on the structure.

“It doesn’t give them any tax benefits or anything off the top and it does put restrictions on changing the exterior, but one reason people do it voluntarily is they take the attitude that if you own a 100-year-old building it’s been there before you owned it and you’ll probably not be the last owner,” Olson said. “(They) value the character and it can’t be radically changed.”

Citywide there are more than 100 buildings with local historic resource designation and about 12 with designation on the National Register of Historic Places, which does come with potential tax benefits and write-offs.

A decision will be made on the grant in early April.

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