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Iron Mountain downtown nominated to National Register of Historic Places

December 8, 2012
The Daily News


Staff Writer

IRON MOUNTAIN - An Iron Mountain Central Historic District is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places at the next meeting of the State Historic Preservation Review Board in Lansing on Friday, Jan. 25.

Article Photos

Lisa M. Hoffmann/The Daily News Photo
Bishop Baraga Catholic School is included in the Iron Mountain Central Historic District, which is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in January.

The nomination is from the State Historic Preservation Office, part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

The district encompasses Iron Mountain's historic downtown, from Fleshiem Street on the north to the county courthouse on the south, and from Iron Mountain Street on the east to Kimberly, Stockbridge and Carpenter avenues on the west.

The nominated area includes the former Carnegie Public Library, the Iron Mountain High School, Central Elementary/Middle School, six churches including old First Presbyterian and St. Mary and Joseph, and the Bishop Baraga School.

Iron Mountain Main Street Manager Jonathan L. Ringel said that being listed on the National Register of Historic Places - the nation's top listing for historic buildings - is honorable and good for marketing, promotion, tourism and the downtown.

"I am excited about it. It's a nice benefit for the community," Ringel said.

Ringel said the national listing will allow property owners to be eligible for tax credits next year.

After being listed, property owners of the buildings can still do what they wish with their building.

"It does not save the building. Only a local historic preservation ordinance can do that," Ringel said.

A map showing the precise boundaries of the district, at right, is also available at Iron Mountain City Hall or the State Historic Preservation Office.

The legal description of the boundary will be published in a classified advertisement in Monday's The Daily News.

This nomination resulted from an application made by Iron Mountain's Main Street Program, a function of the City of Iron Mountain's Downtown Development Authority to the State Historic Preservation Office in response to an offer made by the State Historic Preservation Office to prepare a National Register of Historic Places application for the central business district of one of Michigan's Main Street communities as a contribution to the statewide Main Street program.

Michigan Main Street communities were invited to apply for this service, with the one community that presented the best argument for how it would utilize and benefit from the historic designation to be selected as the recipient of the service.

Iron Mountain was the winning entry.

Most downtown historic district nomination projects such as this one are paid for by the city or private property owners. The work is typically done by hired historian consultants.

Officials said it is time-consuming and thus costly work to prepare the application to list a downtown. A similar project now going on in Escanaba has a price tag of about $52,000.

Because Iron Mountain's project has been done by the State Historic Preservation Office, the project will cost Iron Mountain taxpayers nothing.

"So this is just an incentive and the second one in the U.P.," Ringel said noting how Menominee has a historical listing and Escanaba and Marquette are working on getting listed. "We did really receive this because we are a Main Street community. The state wanted to advance historic preservation. They tried to establish the best district possible."

The purpose of this National Register of Historic Places nomination project is to support the activities of the city's Main Street Program and Downtown Development Authority in enhancing and promoting the business district's vitality through making available to downtown property owners federal income tax credits in connection with substantial rehabilitations of historic income-producing properties that come as a benefit of the national register designation.

To be eligible for the tax credits the work done must be certified as meeting nationally accepted standards known as the U. S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.

The guiding principles behind the standards are the retention of as much of the building's existing historic features as possible while constructing new work that complements the existing historic character. The credits are a tool for assisting in financing rehabilitation work that downtown property owners may make use of if they wish.

The boundaries of the district were drawn to extend beyond the immediate historic business district area to provide recognition to other nearby properties such as the churches, schools, and former public library building that contribute substantially to the central part of the city's historic character and significance.

The National Register of Historic Places is primarily an honorary designation, designed to highlight the historic importance of the property or area so designated and encourage property owners, public officials, and others whose actions may impact the historic property to take appropriate steps to protect and preserve it for the future.

The designation does not impose restrictions on what owners may do with or to their properties or any requirements that they must meet. Owners may alter, sell, or demolish properties the same as before, subject only to pre-existing city or other requirements or regulations.

The listing will become official when the city receives a letter from the State Historic Preservation Review Board within 60 days after the meeting on Jan. 25.

Full information on the effects of national register listing can be found at or or by contacting the State Historic Preservation Office at (517) 373-1630.

The Iron Mountain Main Street Program, established in 2007, is committed to enhancing and promoting the economic and social vitality of the Iron Mountain central business district by cultivating a unique and quality atmosphere that attracts and retains business, shoppers and residents while maintaining our historic character utilizing the Main Street four point approach of Organization, Business Development, Design and Promotion.

Questions regarding the Iron Mountain DDA/Main Street program can be directed at (906) 774-8534 or

Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is



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