Going down in history

NORTHVILLE – The village’s historic district is expected to receive special recognition later this year.

The district is due to be placed on the state and National Registers of Historic places. It includes properties on Main Street, Division Street, Bridge Street and First Street through Fifth Street, with many private homes, businesses and apartments listed in the district.

“Preserving these historic sites helps promote tourism, one of New York’s fastest-growing industries, especially upstate,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release in March, when the state announced parts of Northville and other areas of the state had been nominated for placement on the state and national registers. “These sites represent notable parts of New York’s past, and I encourage travelers to visit them and learn about our state’s great history.”

Northville Mayor John Spaeth said the historic district effort began in 2007, when a group called the Historic Landmark Commission attempted to create a register of historic places and regulate what could be done with them. However, Spaeth said the group did not have a lot of support.

Following the proposal to tear down the Northville Bank on North Main Street to make room for a Family Dollar, Spaeth and concerned citizens formed the Community Collaboration Council to get the historic district made. They submitted the proposal for the historic district in December.

“Pretty much most of the main businesses on Main Street [are part of the district],” Spaeth said.

According to the application to the National Register, the historic district forms an L-shape, following Main Street from the southern terminus of the peninsula north to Bridge and Division streets. It then follows Bridge and Division streets to the western terminus of the peninsula. These streets comprise the village’s central core and include its primary commercial and residential corridors. Northville retains its historic street plan; Main Street was laid out in 1797, and a grid plan was expanded to the west to accommodate new development.

Spaeth said grants would be available to owners of the historic properties once the district is registered. An up to 20 percent tax credit also would be available on renovations done to the buildings.

According to Cuomo’s office, through commercial historic rehabilitation tax credits administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, developers invested $1 billion statewide in 2013 to revitalize properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while homeowners using the state historic homeowner rehabilitation tax credit invested more than $14.3 million statewide on home improvements to help revitalize historic neighborhoods.

According to Spaeth, many of the buildings are registered due to their age, rather than a specific moment in their histories. Many of the buildings listed are more than 50 years old. The Northville Baptist Church and the Northville 5 and 10 are roughly 100 years old, and some buildings even older.

The sites were nominated to the National Registers of Historic Places by state officials, Spaeth said, and approval by the U.S. Department of the interior could be given later this year.

Spaeth said he hopes this new status, along with a potential National Registry position, could help preserve the village and draw in tourists to the village.

Donna Breda, who lives at 202 S. Main St. where the former Winnie-House Hotel was built, said she was happy to see the building registered.

“I think it is great, we are really interested,” Breda said. “… That is one of the things the tourists love about Northville, the old buildings and being able to go through them. The old 5 and 10 Store, the quaintness of it.”

Alberta Blowers, an employee at the 5 and 10 Store for 50 years, said she thinks the district was a great idea. Blowers said many tourists came into the store anyway because of the older aesthetic.

“I know everybody that comes has to come in here, with our tin ceiling and wooden floors,” Blowers said.

“Northville is a special place; I lived here for 26 years,” Richard Klueg, pastor at the Northville Baptist Church, said. “I raised my kids here, I love the village and I want to see it stay the same. There is always progress, but there needs to be some continuity.”