Historic Buildings Can Assist Future Retail Prospertiy

Twenty of sixty-eight buildings around downtown Lamar have the historic potential to qualify for a National or State Historical Register designation, or as local landmarks.  Those numbers are part of the findings from a two year study conducted by architects, Tim and Chris Hoehne.   

Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Coordinator hosted the information presentation at the Lamar Cultural Events Center on Wednesday, November 14.  Hodge outlined the boundaries of the comprehensive study, ranging between the Building Material Supply store to the north and moving south through the city’s main business district.  Eighty-five percent of the buildings studied received a commercial classification spanning about 70 years of Lamar’s history, from the mid 1890s to a period of building renovation work occurring in the mid 1960s. 

According to Chris Hoehne, a building must meet some historical criteria on the calendar, at about 50 years for national registry recognition, while state historical significance is about 30 years.  The cultural resource survey will help specify which buildings in Lamar can qualify for funding from the Colorado Historical Society for either rehabilitation or tax credits for property owners.  Some funding sources will require up to 25% matching funds.  Hodge told the gathering that Lamar Partnership board members and the city council will begin to access the information and develop a plan of action after the New Year.

The Hoehne’s provided a ‘before and current’ slide show for some of the buildings to provide the audience with one aspect of the scope of their work.  Some of their examples included: 

Name of Building                      Address                 Years of Interest 

Lamar Motor Sales                     217 N. Main                      1919
Kirby Sales & Service                  205 N. Main                      1926
Eisenhauer’s Dept Store             104-106 S. Main                1925
J.F. Sherman Mercantile             105 N. 4th                          1921
AT & SF Depot                            109 E Beech                       1907
J-N Shoes                                    102 S Main                         1960s
Green’s Jewelry/Book Depot      103 S Main                        1960s
AVCO/Citi Financial                    108 S Main                        1960s
Golladay-Nash/Quality Cleaners 116-120 W Olive              1939
Maxwell Hotel/PCDI                     201 S Main                       1938
Duckwall/Robinson’s Printing      208-210 S Main                1950s
First Baptist Church                      108 W Oak                       1908 

Applications will have to be made for placement of the State or National Historic Register.  Buildings such as the county courthouse are already registered.  Tim Hoehne said unfortunately, some buildings have been altered to the point that they cannot qualify, but can be used to express local landmarks.   

The historical designation can be used to develop local heritage tourism sites, and funding can help create wayfinder signage at city entry points for tourists traveling through the region or as a specific destination.    The architects said there is historical interest even in some buildings that were built in the 1960s because of a distinctive style recognized across the nation.  They also noted that a property owner does not loose their ownership rights through any historic designation. 

The project may become a means by which the past helps develop the economic prosperity for the future of the Lamar downtown retail community.  Hodge and the Hoehne’s noted that their two year effort produced considerable information on the buildings that were studied, sometimes pages for just one address.  Hodge said the information will become available on the City of Lamar website in the near future.

By Russ Baldwin


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