The boundaries of the Fort Russell Historic District may soon expand to include more historic homes following a reconnaissance survey beginning next month.
Mike Ray, city planner and staff liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, said the current boundaries of the Fort Russell District are quite haphazard, and don’t make sense concerning the age of other structures excluded from the district.
“Any historic district is an asset to any community,” Ray said. “There are places (in Moscow) that are recognized on the National Register, and just places and areas of town that we’d like to preserve.”
Declaring a historical district is a way to recognize buildings that are honorable for their age, but not individually listed on the National Register. Moscow has two historic districts — the Fort Russell Historic District as well as the Downtown Historic District, created in 1981 and the early 2000s, respectively.
The commission will aim for at least half of the houses included in the reconnaissance survey to be contributing to the district. Ray said the areas to be surveyed include from D Street to Sixth Street, to the east side of Hayes Street. He said there are about 450 properties the commission wants to include in the survey.
Historic Preservation Commission Chair Nels Reese said the reconnaissance project may take two or three years to complete rezoning.
“We’re really excited about this,” Reese said. “There are more properties to include.”
Ray said expanding the boundaries and bringing more buildings into the historic district will produce more opportunities for Moscow homes to be listed on historic national registers, and is a point of pride for the community.
“People want to preserve what they have and really preserve the integrity of the district,” Ray said. “There’s something to be said about tourism dollars … I’d say that anything that can help historic districts is also going to help with money coming into the community.”
After receiving a $3,500 Certified Local Government Grant from the Idaho State Historic Office last year and rolling over a portion of the funds to this year’s budget, Ray said the survey will cost about $11,000.
“Hopefully we’ll be receiving another $3,500 in the form of another CLG grant for (next year’s fiscal year, beginning October 1) which will bring us up to $7,000 in funding,” Ray said. The amount of funds given through the CLG grant is based on the city’s population.
Along with an additional $3,500 from the Historic Preservation Commission’s annual budget, and another $3,500 awarded to the commission by the Moscow City Council for special projects, Ray said they are working with a total of about $14,000 to complete the survey.
Annie Doyon, principle investigator and architectural historian of A.D. Preservation in Spokane, Wash. hopes to begin the survey in next month.
“What happens with a reconnaissance survey is usually it segues into a National Register nomination,” Ray said. “We already have the Fort Russell Historic District — what (Doyon) will be doing is taking a look at the current district and seeing how many of those buildings are actively contributing to the district.”
Doyon said she will inspect the homes to determine if both their age and architectural style will fit into the redefined lines of the historical district. She will also be conducting primary inspection surveys and following up with the proposal to expand the district’s current boundaries in August 2014.
Chloe Rambo can be reached at email@example.com