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NewsTribune photos/Amy Flanery The number of historic homes on Ottawa’s east side led to the formation of a new historic district placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district is bordered on the south and north by the Illinois and Fox Rivers, respectively. It extends from the high school east to Green Street.
Ottawa High School is part of an area on the city’s east side that has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The school building is one of 204 structures a historic architect said contributed to the character of the district.
OTTAWA — The city of Ottawa has been notified by the National Park Service and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency that the proposed Ottawa East Side Historic District has been approved and added to the National Register of Historic Places.
This announcement follows more than three years of work by Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission and the firm of Granacki Historic Consultants from Chicago, which handled the application process. Two grants from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency largely funded the process. Much of the city of Ottawa match to the grant was covered by in-kind volunteer services provided by the members of the commission. “Rather than have the city and taxpayers just pay to have the historic district application research done, I am very pleased that so much of the work was instead done voluntarily by commission members. Winning this designation sends a very positive message about Ottawa being a city which respects its heritage,” said Dave Rabideau, chairman of the Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission.
The boundaries of the East Side Historic District are the Fox River and Chapel Street on the north, the south side of East Main Street and the Illinois River on the south, Shabbona Street and Ottawa Township High School on the west and the west side of Green Street on the east.
The District includes 245 principal buildings. Each was individually reviewed by the historic architect with 204 (83 percent) rated as contributing to the “character of an historic district” — an unusually high percentage according to historic architect Victoria Granacki. Almost all of these principal buildings were built as single-family residences, although the district also includes the high school as one of the contributing structures. Each of the buildings had to have its history researched, its architecture and building condition evaluated and its photograph taken.
Two years ago, another grant-funded application process resulted in the creation of the Ottawa Historic Commercial District, which is also listed on the National Register. It contains 156 historic buildings in the downtown area.
Ottawa Mayor Bob Eschbach stated, “Having both of these historic districts in Ottawa really tells the world that Ottawa is a special city filled with historic architecture.
Because a great many people enjoy viewing and shopping in historic buildings, Ottawa’s historic architecture is becoming a significant tourism attraction. I also hope the owners of these buildings will consider taking advantage of the economic incentives available to help cover the costs of restoring and preserving their buildings, now that the buildings are in a National Register Historic District.”
The owners of these historic commercial buildings are now able to carry out certified restoration projects which may well be partially funded by personal federal income tax credits. More information on benefits may be obtained by contacting city planner Tami Huftel at (815) 433-0161, ext. 40.
The city noted that historic designations of this type by the federal government do not come with federal rules and regulations that restrict the rights of property owners.
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