Historic Preservation Survey Creates Inventory Baseline, Makes Recommendations

Historic District Survey Homes Boulder City, Nevada

A new architectural survey has been done of the homes and structures within the Historic District in Boulder City. It’s been long overdue, with the last one completed in the early 80’s. The purpose of the survey is to establish a new baseline of where Boulder City currently stands in terms of the status of our area, as a member of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).

The survey was conducted by a well-known and reputable firm, North Wind, and cost $33,000 and will be 100% reimbursed through a state grant that the city applied for as a Certified Local Government.

Taking directly from the report, is this information here:

The survey of the Boulder City Historic District resulted in the identification of 518 buildings, of which 447 are residential, 50 are commercial, 12 are institutional, public, or semi-public, and nine are maintenance and operational buildings and structures.

Of the total amount surveyed, 225 properties are recommended as contributing resources to the district, with 293 properties recommended as non-contributing. Sixty-four properties, including the NRHP-listed Boulder City Hotel, are recommended as individually eligible for listing in the NRHP.

Those interested can download and read the full report HERE. We have to say it’s really fascinating – I’m a very visual person – and I found myself constantly enthralled by the pictures of the homes and other structures in our area, both old and new.

What does all this mean?

In order for us to continue to make the claim of Historic Boulder City, and maintain our status on the official NRHP, we have to maintain enough of the architecture in our area sufficiently to warrant that special designation – they don’t just hand that out like candy folks – we have to work for it! Given that we currently have less than 50% of our properties listed as contributing, we do run the risk if we do nothing, of losing that status.

And with us not having done an actual inventory of our properties and their status for 40 years(!) we really didn’t even have a baseline to clearly see where we stand on this. But now we do.

Now, even though we are not at the same level we were at in 1982 when Janus Associates completed the last survey, we will still as a city maintain our status on the NRHP. What becomes important in this structure by structure inventory, is to identify what are ‘Contributing’ and ‘Non-contributing’ buildings as they relate to their historic integrity. ‘Contributing’ homes are ones that have been maintained and lend themselves toward that designation, and Non-contributing no longer do that.

But here is why this matters: 1) It’s important for residents who own homes in the Historic District to understand whether they are contributing homes or not, and if they are, how they can maintain that designation. And 2) there are folks in our community who would like us to potentially start to put into the City Code how it is that we allow structures to be maintained within the Historic District, to make sure we keep that designation and protect it for the future.

Keeping the integrity of a structure as a ‘contributing’ one takes some effort. Something as simple as changing out your windows on your home can affect that. Anyone who has owned an older home knows their life is often full of surprises and challenges that newer homes don’t face as often.

As the currently inventory goes, many homes were remodeled decades ago in ways that negatively impacted that status, maybe without even realizing it, and there is nothing easily that can be done now by those current owners.

Recommendations and Future Considerations

If we’re serious about Historic Preservation in our community, then there is a lot to think about and discuss. The survey makes its recommendations on page 101 of the report. In that, they recommend potentially developing regulatory guidelines for structures within the Historic District, as well as to incentivize rehabilitation, educate homeowners and business owners within the district, as well as other recommendations.

And this is where it gets tricky – what do we as residents in the Boulder City community wish to do? Do we want formal changes to our city code to regulate what homeowners can and cannot do with their properties? Do we want that dictated by the City Council and city government, or do we want any such matters to be voluntary? Individual neighborhoods and even streets could literally write and create their own voluntary CCR codes they all agree to, and maintain the integrity of the listing that way.

Historic areas are really cool. I personally remember walking and gawking at the beautifully preserved homes in Camden, Maine for example, with 150+ year-old homes beautifully maintained and recognized for that. Lots of cities all over the US and indeed the world have wrestled with these questions, so maybe it’s time to start thinking about it and see what we wish to do in Boulder City.

Give Your Feedback Now

As of the 23rd we can now participate in a survey from the Nevada Preservation Foundation. There is a flyer below to tell you how to get involved. They want our feedback in by October 19th! And…there is homework! Back in March right before Covid hit, there was an early community meeting to kick-off this topic. We have a video bring you up to speed HERE that you should watch first. Note, it’s 50 minutes long, but worth it to be informed.

Once you’ve watched this and formed an opinion, you can give your feedback by phone, email or snail mail, so check out the flyer below.

This is potentially a great moment for Boulder City. We’re going to need creative thinking, good ideas and a willingness to pull together and have engaged and civil discussions about what we want, and how we think we should best move forward to achieve those goals. Let’s look forward to doing that with our best intentions front and forward in the coming months ahead.

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