City finds funds for historical designation plaques
Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Jan. 2, 2018 at 11:57 p.m.
Owners of historical properties in Longview can now seek local landmark protections without fearing the cost of a commemorative plaque.
The Public Works Department's Traffic Division has "stepped up" and agreed to pay for the $298 plaques used to spotlight buildings designated as local landmarks, City Planner Angela Choy announced Tuesday at a meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission.
The news represents an about-face from early December, when city staff said it had no available funds to pay for such plaques.
"Hopefully, (historical property owners) will be encouraged to apply once we get the news out there about the markers that they will definitely get one," said Commission Chairwoman Debbie Hancock. "We also want to get the word out that if they need funding for any kind of maintenance to the building that requires a permit fee, that they go this route also."
Plaques have been purchased for the already-designated local landmarks — Central Fire Station, Mobberly Place Fire Station, the historical downtown train depot and the Rucker-Campbell House — plus two more for future designations, Choy said.
"(The city) staff will pay for all of these markers," she said, adding that she will amend landmark applications to no longer require applicants pay for their plaques.
The Everett Building, which houses the Gregg County Historical Museum, could become the next beneficiary.
The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to designate the museum as a Local Historic Landmark. Planning and Zoning commissioners will consider the museum's landmark status later this month, and the City Council could finally approve the designation as early as Feb. 8.
Choy said the designation would allow the city to waive permit fees for the museum's upcoming north wall repair project.
In 2016, the Texas Historical Commission awarded the museum a $30,000 matching grant to repair deterioration of the Everett Building's north wall. Contractor bids have not been awarded in that project.
It wasn't known Tuesday how much in savings the museum could see from waived permit fees, Choy said.
Hancock has said owners could see financial rewards by having that designation.
"If they get that local landmark designation, they don't have to pay the fees that the city charges when they start to remodel," she said.
The Everett Building was built in 1910 and was originally Citizens National Bank. It is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and one of five properties or districts in Gregg County listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks come with restrictions for anyone wanting to alter or relocate the structure.
The two-story, raised-basement structure remains as one of the few architectural specimens in Longview associated with the cotton and oil eras in East Texas. Granite used in the building's construction is said to be from the same Marble Falls quarry that provided for the construction of the state Capitol in Austin, according to information at www.gregghistorical.org.
Past commercial tenants of the Everett Building include Matthewson Drug Store, Ballard Drugs, L&L Gallery, Van Burkleo Financial Services, a barber shop, the American Red Cross during World War II.