Downtown Walla Walla

Plaza lights illuminate South First Avenue between Main and Alder streets in downtown Walla Walla.

The Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is set to review the city of Walla Walla’s nomination for a National Register Historic District for downtown Walla Walla on Tuesday, June 29.

The nominated area is roughly bounded by Rose Street, Palouse Street, Third Avenue and the alley between Alder Street and Poplar Street.

The nomination meeting will be open to the public and held virtually via Zoom from 1-3 p.m. According to the meeting agenda, the presentation for downtown Walla Walla historic district will occur at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Following this meeting, the ACHP’s recommendation will be forwarded to the National Park Service, which will make the final decision.

City Planner Melissa Shumake said this project has been underway for 14 years. A reconnaissance survey of a large area of downtown Walla Walla was completed in 2007. A more intensive survey of a smaller portion of downtown in 2017. Walla Walla was awarded a $17,000 grant in the fall of 2019 to fund the nomination application by the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation.

Walla Walla City Council unanimously approved Resolution 2021-94 during a Wednesday, June 23, meeting, authorizing Mayor Tom Scribner to sign the Certified Local Government National Register Nomination Evaluation Report Form.

The National Register of Historic Places states that a building has to be older than 50 years to be considered, and downtown Walla Walla has identified an era of significance in buildings built from 1869-1917.

“Between the very different types of buildings that we have downtown from different eras and that 50 year cutoff, that’s how we ended up with the era of significance that we have,” Shumake said.

After such a lengthy process, city officials are excited the nomination is set to be reviewed.

“I am very, very proud of this achievement,” Shumake said.

A June 17 letter from the DAHP revealed some of the benefits of having downtown Walla Walla in either the National Register of Historic Places or the Washington Heritage Register.

For income producing properties, there is a federal tax credit available to offset rehabilitation costs. Some communities also offer special valuation to reduce property taxes for a 10-year period, which is controlled at the city or county level. Some of the other results of listing in the National Register of Historic Places includes qualification for federal historic preservation grants and special consideration with regard to building code requirements.

Listing of property does not impose federal or state restrictive easements. Listing also assures protective review of a property if federal or state action has potentially adverse effects on the property’s historic values.

Owners of private properties nominated to the National Register of Historic Places have an opportunity to concur or object to listing in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and 36 CFR Part 60. Objectors to the listing are required to submit a notarized statement certifying ownership of property to the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation no less than five days before the scheduled review meeting.

For the link to the virtual ACHP meeting on Tuesday, June 29, visit damp.wa.gov.

Contact the Union-Bulletin’s reporting intern Abby Malzewski at abbymalzewski@wwub.com.

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