With initial surveys underway, the City of Fort Wayne in partnership with ARCH has started the process to electronically catalog sites and structures of historical significance in Fort Wayne and throughout Allen County.
“Ordinarily, for a city the size of Fort Wayne, there would be a city survey and one for the rest of Allen County,” Mayor Tom Henry said. “However, to maximize resources and make the information more user-friendly, the joint project and database makes sense. I am pleased we are able to work together with ARCH to make sure our community’s historic resources are appropriately cataloged.”
To start the process, two of the City’s Historic Preservation Department staff and two staff members from ARCH, a non-profit historic preservation organization serving northeast Indiana, are currently conducting a “windshield” survey – a drive-by on each street and road – of current and potential historic properties.
Using prepared maps, surveyors are working one township at a time. They will note if previously surveyed resources are still eligible and note newly eligible resources, plus take photos of potential historic districts. In future survey phases, staff will take photos and write complete descriptions of all eligible properties.
This project, which is expected to be complete in 2014, will result in a joint city-county historic sites and structures inventory, which is used to evaluate the impact of projects and development as it relates to historic significance. The database will also be available to the public.
“ARCH is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the City of Fort Wayne on this important project. Some properties that we identify during the survey process will be eligible for the national or state register, and, if listed, would also be eligible for a range of federal and state tax credit programs for rehabilitation work,” said Angie Quinn, executive director of ARCH. “Such projects help to stabilize downtowns, older neighborhoods, and the irreplaceable landmarks of our community.”
For the database, historic sites and structures must be at least 40 years old and are evaluated under criteria from the National Register of Historic Places. Evaluation factors include architectural significance; historic importance as related to local, state or national events; and extent of alterations or additions.
Allen County is geographically the largest county in Indiana with the most townships and incorporated municipalities. It has the third largest population with Fort Wayne as the second largest city in the state.
This project is funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Staff time from the City and ARCH cover the remaining of 30 percent of the project’s cost.
The last survey of historic properties in Fort Wayne was completed in the mid 1990s.
Anyone with questions about this project can call the City’s Community Development Division at 427-1127 or ARCH at 426-5117.