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Downtown Plymouth listed in National Register of Historic Places

Cary Ashby • Dec 27, 2018 at 2:00 PM

PLYMOUTH — Now that the National Park Service has approved Plymouth’s nomination for its downtown historic district, it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Doug Dickson, of the Plymouth Area Historical Society, said the designation should help promote the specialty shops in the village and improve the economic development. He has been a Plymouth resident since 1969 and helped form the Plymouth Area Historical Society, which became a non-profit organization in 1984.

Plymouth had been seeking the listing over the last couple of years, said Tom Wolf, communications manager for the Ohio History Connection. Park service officials review each nomination to see whether they agree with the state board that it appears to meet the criteria for being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dickson said some area “building doctors” started showing interest in Plymouth being a “historical industrial district” in the 1980s, but the process and discussion became more intense in 2016. 

All Ohio nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are submitted through the Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society. Wolf said the nominations must receive the approval of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, a governor-appointed, 17-member board of people with expertise in history, architecture, archaeology and other preservation-related fields. The register is the nation’s official list of places that should be preserved because of their significance in history and includes places of national, statewide or local importance.

“This is a good thing for Plymouth and it’s been a community effort,” Wolf said.

In order to receive the nomination, the village has:

• Raised money to have a National Register historic district nomination prepared.

• Worked with a private consultant — Nathalie Wright, of Columbus — to prepare the nomination, which has a standard format. It includes information about Plymouth’s history and explains how the village is locally important and meets the criteria for being listing on the register.

• Submitted the nomination to the Ohio History Connection State Historic Preservation Office.

• Received the OK of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board for the nomination to be sent on to the National Park Service for consideration. 

• Received the OK of the National Park Service, which approved Plymouth’s nomination Dec. 7.

“Most communities consider this designation to be an honor. Another benefit of listing in the National Register is that owners who invest in what’s called ‘substantial rehabilitation’ of an income-producing property that’s listed on the National Register can qualify for a state and/or federal income tax credit  — an amount that comes off their income taxes — if the work they do meets the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for rehabilitation. The standards are a set of guidelines used nationwide to foster good work to older buildings, work that helps preserve historic character,” Wolf said.

In addition to having the honor of being listed, he said it encourages reinvestment in older buildings by making owners of local, income-producing National Register-listed properties eligible to apply for the state and/or federal historic preservation tax credits.

“Communities use eligibility to apply for these tax credits as a tool in simulating reinvestment in historic properties, downtown revitalization and fostering local economic development, as well as in preserving community character,” Wolf added.

The historic district covers Plymouth in both Huron and Richland counties and the outermost boundaries are Dix, Trux, Mills and Railroad streets.

Dickson estimated the village, which has about 1,800 residents, is “kinda evenly divided” between the two counties. He said information will need to go to residential and business owners in the historic district who are interested in the tax credit so they can meet the “historical standards” set by the U.S. Department of Interior, which oversees the the National Park Service.

“We don’t want a lot of empty buildings,” Dickson added.

Wolf said the commercial center of Plymouth was platted in 1825 along existing roads — some of which were “literally chopped out of the woods during the War of 1812.” 

“Plymouth straddles the Richland County/Huron County line and the base line of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Several roads cross at angles downtown, making the village ‘square’ more of a trapezoid,” he added.

For many years in the 20th century, the Fate-Root-Heath Co. manufactured small, industrial locomotives and Silver King farm tractors in Plymouth.

“The district has four wooden commercial buildings dating to about 1850 — the earliest built in 1848 — with another 54 commercial buildings, houses and churches in (the) architectural styles of the Civil War era through the 1960s on or near the square,” Wolf said.

Those buildings include First Lutheran Church, 51 W. Broadway St., Plymouth, (1886) and Plymouth United Methodist Church, 41 Sandusky St. (1866 and 1897).

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