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Start of century, millennium key for preservation effort

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by Lydia Broadstreet

for the Business Journal

Just six months away from the new millennium, excitement about preserving our history is growing exponentially. Here are some of the latest developments:

Preservation Springfield is a newly formed, nonprofit advocacy organization for historic preservation.

Building on the energy created by the turn of the century, not to mention the millennium,

Preservation Springfield is interested in reaching back and interpreting the last 100-year span as it looks forward to the next 100 years.

The turn of the century is an important catalyst in historic preservation, as is Springfield's 175th birthday in 2004. Thus, a key is to look first to the year 2000, then on to 2004, creating a five-year, outcome-based plan for Springfield's 175th birthday.

The vision is of a thriving community of historic neighborhoods supporting each other, through consensus, playing their parts and focusing on their individual roles while working together.

Right now, Springfield has three officially recognized historic neighborhoods, but a nomination is before the state advisory council to more than double that number.

There is much opportunity to bridge the gap between the past and the present, preserving areas not now recognized for their significance.

One such area is Woodland Heights, north of the railroad tracks near Commercial Street.

Such neighborhoods have the opportunity to recapture their history, looking backward as well as forward, anticipating the city's bicentennial 30 years hence.

Another area with historical significance and period architectural design which will be historic by the time of the bicentennial is the Rountree area, including properties on such streets as Pickwick and Weller.

From 1829, when the land was deeded to John Polk Campbell, to the present, there are gaps in our city's history, some during the Civil War antebellum and post-bellum periods, when there was phenomenal growth.

Preservation Springfield has been formed to advocate for, stimulate and support individual and group efforts to preserve and protect our historic sites for future generations and fill in these gaps of history.

In future articles, I will continue to write about preserving the city's history, how the west side is getting a new image, how the city's outstanding Redevelopment Team works, and detail activity and momentum on Commercial Street, in Midtown, Downtown and on Historic Walnut Street.

(Lydia Broadstreet is a Realtor with Carol Jones, Realtors, who specializes in historic and Victorian properties.)

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