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KIMMSWICK: One historic place!

Kimmswick named to national registry

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KIMMSWICK: One historic place!
ANDREW JANSEN PHOTO The Franz Hermann—John O'Heim House and Brewery, built in 1859, is the oldest structure in the Kimmswick Historic District.

Kimmswick received help in an unusual form for its push for national recognition: apple butter.

Proud merchants, residents and government officials in Kimmswick celebrated last week the inclusion of the Kimmswick Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places.

Glee Naes, of the Kimmswick Historical Society, said the group has wanted to apply for national historic status for 20 years. After a grant went unused in the 1980s and no grant was forthcoming in the 1990s, society members needed to raise money. They raised money for their cause by selling apple butter.

They were finally able to hire Historic Preservation Consultant Becky Snider in March of 2006.

Snider evaluated all of the properties within the Kimmswick city limits and developed the Kimmswick Historic District, which was nominated for the National Register on May 11. The district, roughly bounded by Front, Fourth, Mill and Oak streets, was officially accepted to the Register on July 24, offering benefits to the individual properties and the city.

"The main perk is recognition," Snider said. "It brings an awareness of historic authenticity."

Being included in the National Register of Historic Places primarily gives the city bragging rights, but tax incentives are available as well. Funds spent restoring and repairing historic sites in areas approved for the National Register can be deducted from state and federal taxes.

"The National Register was created to promote the preservation of buildings in danger of being lost," Snider said.

Property owners can receive up to 45 percent of rehabilitation project costs back in tax credits—20 percent in federal tax credits for income producing properties and 25 percent state tax credits for any property.

"It doesn't guarantee preservation, just encourages it," Snider said.

Snider said one of the misconceptions about including properties in the National Register is that the owners must keep the property in a certain condition. Both Snider and Naes said that is not true.

"The property owner could tear it down or paint it purple," Naes said.

Rehabilitation is expensive, but the availability of tax credits helps to offset additional costs.

"Missouri leads the nation in the rehabilitation of historic places," Snider said.

Kimmswick earned its nomination because of its historic district of 44 buildings with interesting architectural character and its history of community planning and involvement.

To be eligible for the National Register, an individual structure or district of structures must contain historic integrity and be deemed historically significant. Buildings must be at least 50 years old and retain historic character—no new windows or vinyl siding, for example. A line must be drawn around the district with at least 60 percent of the buildings serving as contributing resources.

Snider said the Franz Hermann—John O'Heim House and Brewery, built in 1859, is the "oldest and most significant" structure in the district. The structure is an example of rare German architecture called fachwerk, which includes heavy timber framing with brick infill.

"It's one of a handful in Missouri," Snider said.

According to Snider, the district also offers "some nice examples of Victorian architecture," such as the Gustave Rauschenbach House on Front Street.

"They have a much higher level of craftsmanship than you see in buildings today," Snider said.

Missouri has more than 1,800 properties listed in the National Register, providing more than 35,000 historic resources.

Jefferson County alone has 11 National Register listings. While the listings include four archeological districts and many individual structures, Kimmswick is the first building district from Jefferson County to make the list.

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