Ottumwa Life We Are Ottumwa - Ottumwa Life Summer 2021 - Page 4

a PassioN for preserving history

The Ottumwa Historic Preservation Commission was established by the City of Ottumwa in 1989 . The establishment of the commission allowed the city to become a Certified Local Government or CLG . The goal of the CLG Program is preservation through partnership . Local , State , and Federal governments work together in the Federal Preservation Program to help communities save the irreplaceable historic character of places . Through the certification process , communities make a local commitment to historic preservation .

This commitment is key to America ’ s ability to preserve , protect , and increase awareness of the unique cultural heritage found in the built environment across the country . Community certification opens doors to funding , technical assistance , and other preservation successes . Being a CLG demonstrates our community ' s commitment to saving what is important from the past for future generations . As a certified community , it becomes easy to demonstrate a readiness to take on successful preservation projects , making our community able to compete for new opportunities .
Iowa is proud to have the largest CLG program in the country . Ottumwa was among the first communities to earn the distinction . The

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Historic Preservation Commission is charged with safeguarding the city ' s historic , aesthetic , and cultural heritage by preserving sites and districts of historic and cultural significance . Since its creation , our commission has successfully nominated seven historic districts and 16 individual structures to the National Register of Historic Places . These listings have brought recognition and pride to our city and strengthened the local economy through State and Federal tax credit incentives and grants .
The commission also promotes the educational , cultural , economic , and general welfare of the public through recognition , enhancement , and perpetuation of sites and districts of historical and cultural significance . Commission members . The meetings focused on strategic planning and informing homeowners of the advantages of owning and , if needed , rehabilitating residences and to instill neighborhood pride and connect neighbors , said Dennis Willhoit , commission chair .
Not only does the designation help buoy property values , it ’ s also a green philosophy , he said , where you ’ re rehabilitating something or giving it a new use rather than tearing down , filling landfills and building new . Commission member Mary Stewart said it also bolsters community pride and knowledge of community history .
Signage has been put up marking each of Ottumwa ’ s seven historic districts . The commission also plans to release a walking / driving map for each district and uploading detailed historic information for each historic structure in the districts , which will be available through an app .
Historic preservation is one of the cornerstones of community revitalization , and commission members are fierce advocates for the preservation , restoration , rehabilitation and reconstruction of the city ’ s historic resources .
“ We ’ re always looking for the next nomination because we want to spread it out ,” Willhoit said . “ Individually , it just lifts your inspirit as a community and how we pride ourselves .”
— The bulk of this piece was pulled from a 2020 Guest Editorial of the Ottumwa Courier submitted by the HPC members .
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