Greenwood works to get neighborhood on national register

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Armed with a camera, map and notebook, two men toured Old Town Greenwood neighborhoods, documenting the houses that have stood the test of time.

The work to document the neighborhood will be included in Greenwood's application to have the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Buildings with shops and restaurants along Main Street and Madison Avenue in downtown Greenwood received that same designation about three decades ago. And if the other areas are included, property owners could get grants or tax breaks if they want to make improvements to their homes, city officials said.

The documentation of about 300 homes and churches north of Main Street, such as on Euclid Avenue, Broadway, Pearl, Wiley and Brewer streets, is a vital part of that effort and will be used to make a case for the historical significance of Old Town. In June, Greenwood was awarded two state grants worth $9,500 to fund the project.

For this first trip through Greenwood this week, Kurt Garner and Dylan Colburn from K.W. Garner Consulting & Design were focused on getting a photograph of each building, an estimated year of construction and what the property was used for.

Estimating how old a building is just from its outside appearance may seem a daunting task, but Garner pointed out several key details that help. Building materials, the style of the house and the type of foundation it is built on are key factors in estimating when it was built, he said.

Brick and stone typically indicated older buildings, while concrete is often used with newer ones, Garner said. An exception is the cast-concrete blocks that were used at the beginning of the 20th century, he said.

Original siding can also be a good indicator, but that is something that is often replaced, Garner said.

Historical home building trends are another way to date the homes. Whether a house is built in the bungalow, foursquare, Queen Anne or ranch style can give a date range of when it was likely built, Garner said.

"The shape can say a lot about a building," he said.

"You get a good idea of how the community developed."

While the majority of the homes in the neighborhoods north of downtown Greenwood date back about century or more, newer homes are sprinkled in here and there as well. Walking on a sidewalk along Brewer Street, Garner pointed out a yellow, single-story rectangular home that was likely built in the 1980s.

"They weren't building ranch houses in the 1800s," he said.

The duo spent several minutes examining Triumph Church at the corner Broadway and Brewer streets. Garner described it as having been built in the Gothic Revival style, likely around 1895.

They scoured the foundation of the building searching for a cornerstone, a typical feature for churches that could provide details about the construction, such as the exact date it was built, Garner said. While they were unable to locate it, possibly due to some newer construction around the entrance, Garner was confident he would be able to find records about the construction of the church.

"Churches keep a good history," he said.

With about 20 percent of the buildings, Garner will provide a more detailed, narrative description of the façade and the history of the property.

Churches and homes of community leaders of the era are properties he will focus on.

Historical records will often be a useful source of data for determining when a building was constructed, who built it and who originally lived there, Garner said.

Whether or not a building is historically significant depends on how close it is to its original form, he said. If there have been significant additions or demolitions or the shape has been altered, it may not qualify, Garner said.

If the designation is approved, homeowners could be eligible for grant funding or tax credits to restore their property.

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