Recognizing area’s important past


An effort is underway to recognize and protect one of Seymour’s oldest residential areas.

Indiana Landmarks and Seymour Main Street are working together to nominate the Walnut Street neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places.

If approved, the new district would include the area roughly bounded by Eighth Street on the north, Pine Street on the west, Fourth Street on the south and the alley between Chestnut Street and Indianapolis Avenue on the east.

An informational meeting about the nomination and what it means to property owners and the community will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour.

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The meeting will provide information about the National Register of Historic Places, how and why certain places and buildings are nominated and advantages to being on the list. There also will be a time for individual questions from residents and the public.

Being placed on the register is a process that could take up to two years.

Laura Renwick, community preservation specialist with Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office, said many years ago, a survey was completed of historic properties in Jackson County.

“This is an area with so many historic buildings, and it deserves that prestige and recognition,” Renwick said of the Walnut Street neighborhood.

The designation also will help make financial incentives available to property owners to help offset rehabilitation costs of homes within the district, she said.

Tax credits of 20 percent are available to home owners who spend at least $10,000 in improvements, she said.

Since the National Register of Historic Places is primarily an honorary designation, there are no restrictions placed on property owners, meaning they can make changes to their homes as they see fit. But only those who follow historic preservation guidelines will be eligible for the tax credits.

To be considered for the registry, buildings must be at least 50 years or older, and for a district, there must be some sense of cohesiveness, Renwick said.

“It could be that they were developed at the same time or that the buildings are from the same time period or of the same scale — something tying the district together,” she said.

There also has to be some kind of significance to the properties, such as examples of architectural style or they are associated with influential community members of the past or something significant happened in the area, like being the first integrated neighborhood.

“For this area, I would say it’s a combination of architectural merits of the houses in the district, and some important individuals from the community are associated with the houses,” Renwick said.

The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the National Park Service and is made up of sites, buildings, structures, districts and even objects that have historical significance to a community.

Several sites in Seymour are on the national registry, including the Farmers Club building, which houses the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce; First Presbyterian Church; the Seymour Commercial Historic District, which encompasses the downtown; the Southern Indiana Railroad Freighthouse, which houses the Jackson County Visitor Center; the George Vehslage house on North Chestnut Street; and the Harlan T. and Helen Montgomery house on North Poplar Street.

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What: Public informational session on the potential nomination of Seymour’s Walnut Street neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour

Information: Contact the Indiana Landmarks Southern Regional Office at 812-284-4534 or [email protected]. You also can visit


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