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Historic preservation commission needs help with historic registry

Volunteers and those interested in learning about the Osceola Historic Preservation Commission and Intensive Survey and Evaluation of Downtown Osceola met at the Osceola Public Library Tuesday, May 14.

Architectural historian Molly Myers Naumann presented the components of a local historic preservation program. The component Osceola Historic Preservation Commission is concentrating on is the survey, which involves researching the history of the buildings around the Osceola square. Naumann said this project would also help, should the city of Osceola want to improve the business district around the square. A survey of possible historic buildings is required before improvements can be done and following this project Osceola will have the survey completed.

To be considered for the historic registry, a building has to have documentation that proves how old it is and what has changed since it was built. Once a building is 50 years old, it is old enough to be considered for the historic registry.

There are several ways to research the history of a building. The commission needs researchers to go to the county offices to obtain details about the property and the owners. The public library is another place to find out about the buildings and the growing community through local histories, city directories, atlases and old newspapers.

Newspapers are a major source because they not only give dates of when a commercial building was built, but also when it came under new ownership or was remodeled. They also provide “historic context” by giving a picture of what was important enough to the community to publish at that time. The commission needs volunteers to read through the old newspapers to find articles about the buildings.

Private collections of historic photos showing the buildings, diaries and/or letters describing or mentioning the buildings and abstracts of title showing ownership and other descriptions are also used to document the age and historical significance of the buildings being considered.

Naumann mentioned one town that had people bring in their old pictures of town buildings to their library where several scanning stations were set up. The townspeople could either wait for their photos to be scanned or leave them and come back later to pick up the photos.

The commission also needs people who don’t mind sitting at a computer and filling out forms.

Several people have volunteered but there are still many volunteer jobs to be filled. The Commission will be organizing the volunteers into groups according to the type of research they prefer and will provide training to do that research. Anyone interested in helping with this project may contact Ann Diehl at 641-342-4852.

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