Meeker residents encouraged to attend historic district presentation March 20

MEEKER | Meeker National Register Historic District (MNHD) consultant Carl McWilliams, owner of Cultural Resource Historians, will provide a public presentation on the designation on Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. at Meeker Town Hall. All are welcome and encouraged to attend to learn about the economic development, tax credit and grant eligibility benefits through landmarking and heritage tourism offered by the state and national designation.

The nomination of the downtown Meeker area as a National Historic District (NHD) was endorsed by the History Colorado Office of Archaeological Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and was subsequently approved by the Colorado Historic Preservation Commission State Review Board on Jan. 19. The nomination was then forwarded to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service in Washington, D.C., for designation, which is anticipated later this spring. The project is a collaborative effort between the Rio Blanco County Historical Society (RBCHS) and the Town of Meeker.

McWilliams has completed extensive research and documentation on early day history of eligible contributing structures within the MNHD including historic residences, the Hugus/A. Oldland Building and government buildings such as the courthouse. A History Colorado State Historical Fund Grant and a Freeman Fairfield Charitable Trust matching grant awarded in 2015 provided $28,000 to the Town and RBCHS to fund the extensive research and nomination project.

There are 110 NHD’s in Colorado.  Such designation provides international recognition and promotion of historically significant buildings and landmarks to dramatically increase heritage tourism and economic development. International and domestic visitors are attracted to old west heritage culture landmarks such as those now designated in Rio Blanco County. Designated contributing structures may also be eligible for grant funding or tax credits for restoration rehabilitation purposes. McWilliams’ history of landmark historic buildings contributing to the MNHD will be published on the RBCHS website and by History Colorado and the National Register of Historic Places for public access and research.

The district encompasses both sides of Main and Park streets between Fourth and Eighth streets. It includes 52 buildings, 31 of which are contributing to the district, and 12 of which are additionally evaluated as individually eligible for inclusion in the National Register. Twenty-one buildings are noncontributing to the district.  Contributing buildings include the original (circa 1880s) military cantonment barracks (now housing the White River Museum, Garrison, and Jensen Residence) in the 500 block of Park St. Previously designated buildings include St. James Episcopal Church, the Meeker Hotel, the IOOF (Oddfellows building—now Mountain Valley Bank) and the Hugus Block /A. Oldland building. Outside of the MNHD, the1895 Coal Creek School was designated in 2014.  There are other contributing historic buildings outside the boundaries of the MNHD identified in a 2009 study by Susannah Reed Associates that may be eligible for designation as  State and National Registry of Historic landmarks in the National Register of Historic Places or the State Register of Historic Properties. There are about eight centennial farms/ranches designated in Rio Blanco County as well as the Milk Creek Battlefield National Historic Park.

A grant application is being submitted by RBCHS to fund tasteful landmark signage and digital links depicting the colorful history of contributing buildings to further enhance the educational appeal for visitors.

See History Colorado website links for more information: http://legacy.historycolorado.org/archaeologists/rio-blanco-county, http://legacy.historycolorado.org/content/chn-heritage-tourism-boosted-colorado-economy, http://legacy.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/OAHP/crforms_edumat/pdfs/1620_EconomicBenefitsReport.pdf, http://legacy.historycolorado.org/sites/default/files/files/OAHP/crforms_edumat/pdfs/1620_TechnicalReport.pdf, http://legacy.historycolorado.org/oahp/centennial-farms-how-apply.

Contact Robert Amick,  NHD task force chair, for details at amick@colorado.edu or 970-274-6557.