Landmark Trust hopes to save historic properties with revolving fund

Published 8:24 am Monday, May 15, 2017

Three local agencies presented plans on how to save historic properties in Danville and Boyle County at a Boyle Landmark Trust meeting Thursday, held in observance of Preservation Month.

A reception that included a display of local art was held at Historic Warrenwood Manor on Hustonville Road.

Boyle Landmark Trust has taken the lead on the plan and is working with Heart of Danville and Main Street Perryville.

Barbara Hulette, former BLT chairman, has worked along with Ben Miles, consultant for Shire Environmental, and others to design a new Revolving Fund Committee to save local historic properties.

BLT is working with Miles to find a way raise funds to purchase historic properties that are in danger of being lost.

Plans were outlined by Hulette and Miles during the reception.

Efforts to establish a revolving fund began over two years ago with Heart of Danville, Landmark Trust and Main Street Perryville, Hulette said. “The organizations brought in experts for a conference on historic restoration and how to finance it.”

Daniel Carey of Savannah, Georgia, conducted the conference and it created the desire locally to investigate forming a revolving fund, she said.

Mark McDonald of Georgia Trust Atlanta, also came to the city last year to look into creating the revolving fund.

In September, Bethany Rogers of Heart of Danville; Yvonne Rettie, then chairman of Landmark Trust; and Miles met with Hulette and agreed that Landmark Trust would be the fiscal agent and vehicle for creating the program.

Rettie called a special meeting of the Trust board to explain the concept of creating the revolving fund and the board has continued to pursue work to explore its options, Hulette said.

A committee made up of Hulette, Rettie, Pankey, Miles, Pat Boatwright, Stephanie Griffin, Kathy Milby, Julie Rodes and George Coomer, are working on plan.

Hulette said the committee has devised an action plan with vision statements:

  • facilitate productive reuse of historic properties;
  • benefit the local economy;
  • help make historic districts desirable places to live and work;
  • build up reserve money;
  • save a historic property;
  • assist with a restoration project that a third-party is working on;
  • identify a first project; and
  • create a fundraising plan.

Miles said a revolving fund can save properties by restoring and reselling them to help with financing another project. He said other cities have done similar projects.

We’ve just started work a few months ago and are getting our ducks in a row,” Miles said.

The plan is to use selective criteria to fund and buy historic properties, then restore and resell them. One option is to purchase distressed property. A low-interest loan or a facade grant may have drawbacks, he said.

“We will have to raise money for the effort,” he said.

He said the beautiful artwork of many restored historic properties that was on display at the meeting shows what structures can be like after restoration.

Restoration can be made in districts where people live and work.

Hulette members who have worked on the plan since the beginning and others who have restored buildings and houses in the city.

Hulette said Miles also is working to get the Willis Russell Log Cabin, which dates back to 1800s, placed on the National Register for Historic Preservation.

Jacob Pankey, chairman of BLT, welcomed the crowd that included several county officials, and said the Trust was formed over 40 years ago, 10 years after the National Preservation group organized.

He said it is “better to be inclusive and collaborate with other organizations on projects.”

The group partnered with the Arts Commission of Danville and Boyle County for the program. Mimi Becker, executive director of the Arts Commission, exhibited 10 paintings by artists of local historic structures.