Residents want to make downtown a historic district

One of the Community Preservation Committee sponsored articles you’ll get to vote on at town meeting in April is whether to allocate funds to create a historic district in downtown Southborough. The effort is being led by downtown resident Ray Hokinson.

My Soutbhrough contributor Kathryn Marous talked with Hokinson about the project and filed this report. (Note: Kathryn lives in the downtown village, but not in an area that would be part of the proposed historic district.)


Would you like to see a National Register Historic District sign when you drive through downtown Southborough?

Main Street resident Ray Hokinson would. He has been emailing neighbors and meeting with town officials in an effort to create a village center historic district.

“It becomes a piece of our branding for the town,” Hokinson said. “It is an encouragement to revitalize the village center.”

After meeting with Hokinson, the Southborough Community Preservation Committee (CPC) plans to include a proposal for the district as part of the CPC warrant articles for Town Meeting in April. Currently the article seeks to allocate $21K to the project, but Hokinson told selectmen last week that the number may be more like $18K.

Right now, Hokinson and his supporters are targeting just downtown in an effort to start small. He said he would be happy to see separate districts in Fayville or Cordaville.

Wendy Frontiero, an architect and preservation consultant, has been hired by fourteen downtown property owners. According to Hokinson, Frontiero walked downtown and has started to make specific recommendations which may be included in the CPC warrant.

Hokinson has met with the Historic Commission, but said they are serving in an advisory capacity. The effort is “resident driven,” he said.

According to the National Park Service website, “Owners of private property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that no Federal monies are involved.”

(Photo by Chris Wraight)

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13 years ago

A couple questions for anyone who may know. What exactly will that $18-$21K be spent on? Also, I haven’t heard anything about the main street renovation plans (burying the wires, adding landscaping, improving sidewalks) in a while so I don’t know where that stands but how would this historic district effort effect those plans?

Ray Hokinson
13 years ago

Like so many other Town and Government Projects the cost in this case is completely for a specialized Preservation Consultant that is experienced in researching, documenting and preparing Historic surveys for the NR nomination. An individual property nomination would be about $3K. This is for a district with about 50 parcels and 58 buildings. The $18K consultant fee includes:

1. One start-up meeting with local historical commission.
2. Review and assembly of existing documentation, maps, and bibliographic sources.
3. Preparation of National Register form: cover sheets; architectural description; historic significance.
4. Maps.
5. Photography (black and white archival prints!).
6. One set of revisions to draft NR form to address comments from MHC and Southborough HC.
7. One public information meeting.
8. Presentation to MHC review board.
9. Administration

Regarding the status of the Main Street reconstruction plans; those village residents that are activlely involved are as much in the dark as you are. The town’s plan so far is only for asphalt. It is only a road design. The nice pictures you see at the Post Office and elsewhere were generated for the Main Street Council. (a business and resident group) That is not necessarily the Town’s plan. Those pictures and the unifying Historic District is a vision many Village residents would like to see eventually achieved. RH.

Earl E. Byrd
13 years ago

I don’t understand the benefit the town will receive in exchange for the $18,000 expenditure to file the application.

What does a historic district designation do for us?

Do we really believe it will be “an encouragement to revitalize the village center”?

Nothing against historic districts, I just don’t see the benefit from this one at this time. Perhaps there is more to come that will highlight the expected benefits..

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