Historical designations

As many as 30 business buildings in Buena Vista may be impacted by historical designations, according to Deon Wolfenbarger of Three Gables Preservation of Nederland.

The town’s Historical Preservation Commission was awarded a grant from the History Colorado State Historical Fund to continue surveying structures in Buena Vista’s downtown area.

The grant of $18,000, matched by a contribution from the town of $6,000, will be used to fund a survey similar to the one completed in 2018 by Three Gables, “however the work will probably be preformed by another firm,” said HPC vice-chairman John O’Brien.

O’Brien said that the grant will also be used to develop “a Historic Preservation Library … for the purpose of educating local property owners and community members about the practice and principles of preservation, as well as making primary documents (such as the subject historic surveys) easily and freely accessible.”

These documents, as well as a selection of texts on respecting historic structures and styles with new construction, would be available at the Buena Vista Public Library and at town hall.

The HPC is also seeking a grant from the Colorado State Archives to purchase a document scanner, which would allow the town to digitize a collection of over 2,000 photos held by Buena Vista Heritage and town historian Suzy Kelly.

While the previous survey focused on the commercial structures of East Main Street, many of which were built in the 1880s, the survey that will be funded through this grant is aimed at “29 historic residences and one commercial property situated within Buena Vista’s historic core.”

The survey will look at properties estimated to have been built between 1879 and 1959, the grant application says.

The application from the town to History Colorado states that Buena Vista has fewer than 50 historically significant properties remaining.

The findings of the commercial property survey were used by an HPC subcommittee in drafting architectural guidelines that will be considered by the board of trustees for potential inclusion into Buena Vista’s building code later this year.

The HPC is currently in the process of reviewing the draft guidelines presented by the subcommittee last month.

“This intensive survey will be a resource that each individual property owner may use to help locally landmark their property,” O’Brien said. “A locally landmarked property is eligible for state tax credits for preservation and restoration work to offset some of the costs associated on owning and maintaining a historic property.”

The grant is one of 17 mini grants – those with recommended awards of $35,000 or less – announced by History Colorado in its 2019 grant cycle last week. The Historical Fund awarded a total of $383,380 to projects throughout the Centennial State, it said.

Projects awarded in this cycle include the acquisition of the Dunn’s Block building in downtown Saguache by a group hoping to preserve the building, the rehabilitation of the Lions Ampitheather in Wray, the development of app-guided historical walking tours of towns in Huerfano County and the creation of an archaeological field school on the campus of the Community College of Denver.

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