A group of historic preservation commission members and staff from Opelika, Auburn and other cities throughout the state participated in a Certified Local Government workshop Thursday at the Southerly Warehouse in Opelika.
The event, hosted by Opelika Historic Preservation Commission and the Alabama Historical Commission, provided information to communities interested in starting a local preservation commission.
The workshop featured speakers from the Alabama Historical Commission discussing such topics as listing properties on the National Register and Alabama Register, tax credit incentives available for certified rehabilitations, powers and duties of local historic preservation commissions and grants available through the Certified Local Government program.
Lisa Thrift, historic preservation coordinator and community development administrator for the city of Opelika and John Marsh, principle at Marsh Collective, also spoke at the event.
Marsh spoke about the Southerly Warehouse, Opelika’s historic Davis Dyar building that he restored and made into an event space.
“This building has been in my heart for 13 years to do,” Marsh said.
He and his wife have restored 163 houses, buildings and lofts in Opelika.
“We love what we’re doing here,” Marsh said.
Hannah Garmon, Alabama Register and Cemetery Register Programs Coordinator for the state's historical commission, said properties must be at least 40 years old to be eligible for placement on the Alabama Register.
“They could be listed for a number of different types of buildings, historic districts, sites, structures or objects that are significant to Alabama’s history, architecture, and archaeology,” Garmon said.
Garmon said properties must also possess historic significance and retain its integrity.
“So what integrity means is that the property must or should retain its aspects of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship and feeling,” Garmon said.
There are 31 properties in Lee County listed on the Alabama Register as of May, according to the state’s historical commission website. Of those, 11 are in Opelika.
The J.W. Darden House and Lake Condy are two of the properties in Opelika listed on the Alabama Register. The Darden House is also on the National Register.
Garmon explained how people can nominate a property to be on the Alabama Register.
“Go on the commission’s website, contact me and I have a form that you fill out,” Garmon said. “We’ve simplified the Alabama Register nomination form. It’s just going to require basic knowledge of your site, a short physical description, information about who owned it, who lived there, how it’s been used, kind of a brief history of the building and photographs.”
Garmon said the commission would need current photographs of the interior and exterior of the building that someone is nominating. Historical photographs can be included with the current ones.
Nominations are reviewed quarterly by the staff members of the commission.
Properties accepted on the Alabama Register will be listed on the commission’s website and receive a certificate signed by the state governor and the executive director of the commission.
Garmon also spoke about the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register Program.
The program, which began in 2002, has 775 cemeteries listed on the state’s historic cemetery register, according to Garmon. Ross Cemetery in Opelika is one of the properties listed on the register.
“This is a great way to increase public awareness about cemeteries and it’s a good way to bring about documenting and encourage the documentation of local cemeteries,” Garmon said. “Cemeteries are part of our historic landscape and they tell us about our past.”
A property must be at least 40 years of age to be eligible for placement on the Alabama Historic Register. An application must be filled out and then the commission will review the nomination.
For more information, visit the state’s historical commission website at ahc.alabama.gov.