Historic Palestine

From left: Diane Williams, architectural historian, Julie Abston, chairperson of Palestine Landmark Commission, Timothy Triplett, president of Historic Palestine, Inc., and Tracy Torma, vice chair of Palestine Main Street Committee.

Palestine's Main Street might look a bit haggard, but a local group aims to revive it.

Members of Historic Palestine Inc. want the Main Street commercial area added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Adding Palestine's Main Street to the register will expand opportunities for state and federal grants and loans to rehabilitate and save historic buildings. Federal income tax credits and state franchise tax credits are other potential benefits to owners.

The goal is to transform the downtown area into a thriving commercial district, drawing tourists and boosting the local economy — as have other historic Main Street towns.

Members of Historic Palestine are starting with an informational meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall's council chambers. They especially want Main Street businesses and building owners to attend and learn how they can benefit.

“Rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings supports and enhances economic development, increases tourism, boosts civic pride, and creates regional visibility,” said Dr. Carolyn Salter, a founding member of Historic Palestine and former Palestine mayor.

The National Register of Historic Places lists places in the United States “worthy of historic preservation,” reports the National Park Service website (nps.gov).

The proposed district, dubbed the New Town Historic District, will showcase the area's historical significance and architectural variety. Fredericksburg, Granbury, and Alpine are other historic Texas towns that have experienced revival since getting on the register.

The City of Palestine designated a larger area as the Downtown Historic District.

A thriving commercial center in the 19th and 20th centuries, Palestine's Main Street served the state's transportation industry from the 1870s to the 1960s. Some buildings, such as The Redlands Hotel and Anderson County Jail, have already been added to the register.

Historic Palestine also led efforts to have three of the city's historic neighborhoods added as well. North Side and South Side Historic Districts have been on the register for 20 years; the Michaux Park Historic District was added in 2003.

Architectural historian Diane Williams, who prepared the previous applications, will present information at Wednesday's meeting and prepare the application for the New Town Historic District.

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