People are realizing the value in Palestine’s historic houses and buildings from around the state and the country. Since the devastating hurricanes of 2005, people have been buying Palestine’s historic houses and moving to “The City Beautiful,” “The Queen City of Texas” and “The Land of Milk and Honey” as Palestine was referred to in some historic publications.

Palestine’s historic houses and buildings are a great value. The quantity, concentration, high quality, architectural design, and the historic integrity of Palestine’s historic houses is attracting people from all around the state and country to Palestine.

Another reason is the rehabilitation of the historic commercial buildings that are in the process of being rehabbed in the Main Street area. One of the latest that is in process is Adventure Advertising and Design Studio located at 114 West Main Street/113 West Spring Street, formerly the George Grocery Building.

Both the Main and Spring Street façades are being rehabilitated a a part of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation Façade Improvement Program grants that were awarded last year. The program has been enormously successful in improving the eye appeal of Palestine’s Main Street area.

Spring Street is a major thoroughfare that has both local and through traffic. The first impression of our community is shaped by what travelers see when they first drive through downtown and the revitalization work is having a positive effect on how people perceive Palestine.

The 100 block of Spring Street already looks like an entirely different place since the Henry Ash building façade was completed in December at 115 West Spring St. and work has started on Adventure Advertising. We are told that work will soon begin on the Lucas Hardware building, now Duncan Depot Antiques, which will have an even greater effect on the visual appeal of Spring Street.

Next to Adventure Advertising is the Law Office of A. Hugh Summers in the Henzie Building. Summers was the pioneer of rehabilitating that part of Spring Street when he rehabilitated his building a few years ago. At the intersection of North Sycamore and West Spring Streets is the Gregg-Link Building on which work is progressing nicely. Imagine just how good our downtown will look once all of the buildings are completed.

The “Your Old House…or Building” lecture series began its 2009 season on Jan. 22 at the Palestine Public Library. The topic was “Are There Any Organizations That Can Help Me?” February’s topic is “How do I maintain My Historic House or Building?” which should be of great interest to anyone who owns or is contemplating the purchase of a historic home or building.

The series will continue on the fourth Thursday of each month through October, so don’t miss this informative and educational series designed to help and encourage everyone whether they own an older home or not. A schedule of topics and dates is available at the Library or from the Historic Preservation Office.

We want to encourage everyone who is buying, selling, or planning to work on a historic house or building in Palestine to request the very important and beneficial information regarding Palestine Historic Districts and Palestine Landmarks. The Main Street/Historic Preservation Office has the resources and information that are needed to make informed decisions about older and historic structures. Ask us for a copy of the Design Guidelines Handbook that will answer most of your questions, including information on city property tax incentives, whether a property is located in a Palestine Historic District, and do’s and don’ts. We can also determine if a structure is a designated Palestine Landmark or if it is eligible to be designated as a Palestine Landmark, a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, or Listed/Eligible for Listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City of Palestine has adopted the International Existing Building Code (IEBC), which takes into account the differences in the construction materials and methods of older and historic buildings and the IEBC can be very beneficial when rehabilitating a historic structure.

We are here to assist you with your project and we welcome your questions and concerns. Please contact Main Street Manager and Historic Preservation Officer Neely Plumb at 903-731-8442, 903-724-3052, or via e-mail at nplumb@palestine-tx.org.

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Neely Plumb is the City of Palestine’s Main Street Manager and Historic Preservation Officer.

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