City celebrates historic designation

Alex Doty • Dec 5, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Grand Haven’s downtown area now has the designation to back up claims of being a historic community, thanks to its placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

“About two years ago we applied, and we received confirmation … that we had two applications that were both approved,” Grand Haven Main Street Executive Director Diane Sheridan said.

The National Register is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's register is part of a program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

Other cities in the area with their downtowns listed on the National Register of Historic Places include Holland, Allegan and Lowell. Grand Rapids also has several historic districts/neighborhoods, including the Heartside Historic District, Heritage Hill and the Ledyard Block.

“It has been a journey of almost three years,” Sheridan said. “I worked on it as a volunteer before I started officially in Grand Haven.”

Benefits of the designation include a listing in the National Register Archives; the encouragement of preservation of historic resources; and opportunities for specific preservation incentives such as federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation, federal investment tax credits, preservation easements to non-profit organizations, and other possible state funding opportunities.

A listing on the National Register places no restrictions on private property.

The city’s applications call it the Grand Haven Central Historic District.

“The period of significance is the 1860s to the early 21st century,” Sheridan said of the district. “We have 120 structures and one area — which is the (Central) Park — in that list.”

The district extends east along Washington Avenue from Harbor Drive to just past Sixth Street. The district includes buildings on the streets paralleling Washington for several blocks on the south and north, including along Franklin and Columbus avenues.

“Our second (designation) is the Grand Trunk Western Railroad coal tipple, which was built in about 1924-25,” Sheridan said.

Main Street officials cut a ribbon for the achievement during City Council’s Nov. 21 meeting, and officials say more recognition designating the registered places will be coming soon.

“We will be getting a plaque and installing those over the next several months,” Sheridan said. “Maybe in the spring.”

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