Downtown Painesville Added to National Register of Historic Places

This week, the City of Painesville was proud to learn that the U.S. National Park Service has added Downtown Painesville to the National Register of Historic Places. The honor is a huge boost to Painesville’s revitalization efforts which will ensure that the current historic buildings and sites within the downtown area will be recognized by the U.S. National Park Service and considered a national resource. It also allows local businesses and organizations to apply for preservation tax credits.


The massive effort to put Downtown Painesville on the National Register was started four years ago by the Downtown Painesville Organization (DPO). The project was led by Tara Carlson, a local graduate student pursing a master’s degree in historic preservation with her thesis on Downtown Painesville. A DPO design committee comprised of six members including members David Polakowski, former DPO Executive Director, Lynn White, Painesville City Planner, Bill Smith, Painesville historian and Carl Engel, historian at Morley Library, all contributed to research, data and planning for the application process which reviewed more than 47 structures that are over 50 years old and Veterans Park.


“This has been a work in progress for about four years. Having this final approval is very satisfying after all of our hard work as well as very exciting for the City of Painesville,” said Carlson.


The final historic district includes 25.11 acres in the downtown, 49 resources, 40 contributing buildings, one contributing park and one contributing monument. Only seven buildings within the district are considered non contributing, either due to age or lack of integrity. Locations in this designation includes: Veterans Park (Painesville Square), 22 Liberty Street (First Church Congregational), 7 Richmond Street (Painesville City Hall and Municipal Court), 7-71 North Park Place (Johnson Apartments, Old Post Office, Lake County Courthouse and Painesville United Methodist Church), 30-100 South Park Place (Chase Bank Building to Dworken & Bernstein Offices), 15-34 South Saint Clair Street (Old Puritan Bakery Building to the Old Ohio Bell Building), 105-270 Main Street (all the Main Street buildings excluding 177 Main Street), 8-124 North State Street (Key Bank Building to Franz Auto Service), 1-83 South State Street (Sidewalk Café to Painesville Furniture, excluding 54 South State Street).


The National Register of Historic Places was authorized in 1966 by the National Historic Preservation Act to support efforts to identify, evaluate and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.


“The application process is very technical,” said Carlson. “Certain terminology needed to be used, certain criteria met, specific applications used. After all the research and writing was done, the application went through three reviews at the state level and one at the national level.”


There are many benefits to being on the National Register including tax credits and grants, tourism and property promotion, an increase in property values and the honor of being recognized by the U.S. National Park Service as a historic place worth preserving.


Carlson noted that some property owners can be opposed to being part of a historic district due to misconceptions, like that they will lose all control of their property or that the public will have free access to their building. While there is a local approval process to what can be done to the outside of the buildings to preserve the original integrity, the National Register designation provides financial incentives and tax credits to help businesses and organizations overcome this obstacle from the federal government. A property in the historic district can also be completely private and closed to the general public.


Over the coming weeks, the DPO design committee will be meeting to discuss plaque placement and certificates. They will also begin constructing an information packet to distribute to building owners within the historic district on the benefits of the new distinction.