Walnut Street Historic District named to national register


Efforts to secure a National Register of Historic Places designation for a Seymour neighborhood have paid off.

The Walnut Street Historic District, added to the list Friday, is the first residential historic district in the city to qualify, although a second is in the process of also being placed on the list, Greg Sekula said Monday.

Sekula, director of the Southern Regional Office of Indiana Landmarks, said the listing is mainly an “honorific” designation providing acknowledgement of the role the district has played in the history of Seymour, but there are some other benefits for property owners.

“It opens the door for tax incentives,” he said.

Tax credits of 20% are available to homeowners of older historic properties in the district who spend at least $10,000 in improvements, he said.

“Some of Seymour’s finest Victorian homes are located there,” he said.

Income-producing properties also would be eligible for 20% federal tax credits for improvements.

The hope is the tax credits will provide incentives for property owners to invest in their properties, Sekula said.

It does not place any restrictions on property owners within a district, but only those who follow historic preservation guidelines will be eligible for tax credits. To be considered for the registry, buildings must be at least 50 years old, and for a district, there must be some sense of cohesiveness.

The Walnut Street Historic District includes an area 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.

The Boulevards/Westover Addition neighborhood on the west side is in the process of being named to the list, Sekula said.

That area, roughly bounded by Fifth Street on the north, Elm Street on the east, Second Street on the south and Bryant Boulevard on the west, shows the city’s growth and evolution during the early 20th century.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology is expected to review the application in April, and if approved, it will be sent to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places for review and potential approval, Sekula said.

The national register is made up of sites, buildings, structures, districts and even objects that have historical significance to a community.

The city paid $3,750 to Kurt West Garner, a preservation, consulting and design firm in Plymouth, to assist with requirements to nominate the North Walnut Street and Boulevards/Westover Addition areas to the register, but Indiana Landmarks paid half of the contract, Sekula said.

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

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