GENEVA — Representatives of the History Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office are out and about, visiting Nebraska counties this month, promoting historic awareness and preservation.
This year they are visiting Fillmore, Furnas, Howard and Garfield counties.
A group from that office traveled to the Geneva Public Library this week for a meeting to raise awareness about historic preservation programs and to assist interested communities in implementing a historic preservation plan for any or all towns in Fillmore County.
History Nebraska was known previously as the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Kate Hewlings, survey coordinator for History Nebraska, gave a presentation on the different programs affiliated with historic preservation.
The programs include the National Register of Historic Places, Certified Local Government Program, Nebraska Historic Tax Credits, Valuation Incentive Program, Nebraska Historic Resources Survey, and Inventory and Federal Historic Tax Credit.
These programs are available to communities to preserve their historic properties.
After each initial county presentation, a historic survey of all the communities will be made by “walk-throughs” of the SHPO staff to determine buildings and other structures of historic significance.
“You have to know what’s out there first, so you can create a plan,” Hewlings said.
The survey work will focus in towns and populated areas of each county, but rural locations will be considered if historically significant.
“If you see people walking your streets, looking at everything and taking photos, that’s us,” Hewlings said. “We help communities realize what they have.”
Buildings and structures need to be more than 50 years old and must still retain their historic character. The surveyors get their “clues” from building materials, rooflines, doors, windows, chimneys and other decorative details to tell a building’s age.
Historical research also is conducted. This includes checking historic maps and written histories. The research helps surveyors by giving additional clues on how and where to look for historic properties within a county and where old, historic buildings may still exist.
In the end, all the findings are put together
Kelli Bacon, Certified Local Government (CLG) coordinator, said the goal of the program is to increase local preservation activities and link local governments with a national network.
CLGs are cities or counties that meet certain federal and state standards and with that status are entitled to apply for yearly grants from the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office, a division of History Nebraska.
“At the present time, Nebraska only has eight CLGs, and I’m trying to get more,” Bacon said. “After the surveys are done, I work with them to help them reach their historic preservation goals.”
When all research is completed, a conclusion meeting will be conducted to help communities evaluate and plan.
Hewlings asked, “Why save old places?”
And then she replied, “To remember them, tell who we are. They provide teaching about the place, and we should save them to remember their beauty.”