Jefferson City designates three new landmarks

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JEFFERSON CITY - Every year since 1994, Jefferson City's Historic Preservation Commission recognizes properties in the city as Landmark Award properties. Today, the city will add three to the list of historical landmarks.

Two of the properties are residential, located at 1213 Elmerine Avenue and 720 East High Street. The third property is currently Yanis Coffee Zone, located at 130 East High Street.

Property owners are encouraged to apply for the award, and the homeowner of 720 East High Street thought she should apply to show how old buildings can be saved to remember the history of the city.

"It's a matter of pride for Jefferson City because so much of the city is based on its history," Donna Deetz said. "It's important for the folks in Jefferson City to know the importance of our city and to see it replicated in the buildings that are rehabbed." 

She renovated her home about four years ago, and she applied for the Landmark award this year. The building was part of a veterinary clinic, and it was used to hold kennels for the animals. 

Deetz is also on the Historic Preservation Commission; this group decides which properties receive this award and which ones aren't historically significant enough.

Some of the properties the Commission has turned down are located on School Street, and the city is actually planning to demolish some nearby homes.

The city owns five properties in the area, two of which are on School Street. It plans to demolish some of them because they are located on a flood plain. This would turn the area back to "green space," which restricts any future construction on the land. 

"Demolition has only been spoken about for the properties the city owns," said Neighborhood Services Manager Jayme Abbott. "Nobody is getting kicked out of their houses, and there's no intention of the city going into the neighborhoods and doing eminent domain."

Eminent domain allows governments to take properties for the greater good of the community. Abbott said the city just wants to protect residents from living on a dangerous flood plain.

Residents on the street submitted a local historic district application to protect the rest of the street from being demolished. The Commission denied the first application, but the residents don't plan on giving up.

Though there are many old buildings in Jefferson City, the Commission considers many characteristics of the property, like its cultural significance and its architectural integrity, before giving a historic or landmark designation.

"Is it a property worth saving because it has historical significance, or is it just a hundred year old house that needs rehab," Deetz said. "You need to look at both sides of that and really establish whether or not it's an opportune time to save a property or if it really needs to be torn down because it can't be rehabbed."
The Landmark Award application says the Commission appreciates owners' willingness to allow their properties to be recognized with the award. The city will present the official plaques for the three new landmarks in May.