Pelzer Historic District proposal to go before state board November 18

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By David Meade

Representatives of the State Preservation Office of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History were in Pelzer Monday to provide information on the establishment of a historic district in the old mill village of Pelzer.

Brad Sauls, Supervisor of Survey, Registration & Grants and Ehren Foley, Ph. D, National Register Historian & Historical Marker Coordinator, spoke to members of the Pelzer Historic Commission and several property owners who are to be included in the proposed historic district.

The proposed district includes properties on Lebby Street, Reed Street, Smyth Street to Anderson, portion of Anderson Street and Square St. The district also includes the dam and power house and some mill structures.

To be included a property owner does not have to sign anything, according to Sauls. If for some reason a property owner wants to object they can send a notarized letter to the State Historic Preservation Office in Columbia.

He also said a majority of the property owners in the proposed district would have to object to prevent a listing.

A total of 134 properties will be included in the District, according to Dr. Foley.

Larry Coker and Dianne Lollis of the Pelzer Historic Commission have been in the process of gathering information and photographs of the properties that are to be included in the nomination process.

The proposal to designate a historic district in Pelzer will go before the State Department of History and Archives Board on November 18.

Dr. Foley said that if the district is approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, it will then be sent to the Department of Interior for a decision to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dr. Foley said that the National Register creates a public process and national perception for the evaluation of properties that can be designated.

He said that South Carolina currently has 1500 individual properties and 200 districts on the National Register.

To be included a property must be at least 50 years old and have some state or national significance, he said.

Criteria includes being associated with events that have a significant contribution to broad patterns of history; associated with the lives of significant persons; have distinctive architecture; or are likely to yield information important in history or archeology potential.

Pelzer meets two of the four according to Dr. Foley. The proposed Pelzer Historic District has some architecture and place relevant to history in that it reflects textile manufacturing in SC and mill housing in SC.

Another test is if the people who were alive at the time came back would the properties still be intact and would they recogize it, Dr. Foley said.

Properties that are on the national register receive national attention and are eligible to receive some protection of federally licensed or assisted projects that may affect them, and certain state and national tax incentives.

There is a 25 percent state tax incentive for homeowners. Businesses are also eligible for a 20 percent Federal income tax credit.

Dr. Foley said that being on the National Register does not prevent a property owner from disposing, modifying or renovating the property as long as no federal monies were involved in the project.

Dr. Foley said Pelzer has a good chance of being approved on the state level.

“We have a lot of textile mills in the National Register,” he said. Many are being renovated for housing and are most ofter pushed by developers. Usually mill housing, the mill village, gets left behind.”

Pelzer is the opposite, according to Dr. Foley.

“We don’t have a lot of districts that tell the story of the common man, workers who ran the loom,” Dr. Foley said. “Here we have the mill housing, the mill village, but don’t have the mill.”

Sauls said Pelzer was included in a county-wide survey done in the early 2000s to identify and record historic properties. He said once identified, it is up to individuals to follow up and bring forward any nominations to be included on the state or national register. If a property or district is approved, property owners can receive a document and/or plaque stating the property is included in a historic register.

If a property owner chooses to object to the listing, the notarized objection must be submitted to Elizabeth M. Johnson, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, SC Deptartment of Archives and History, 8301 Parklane Road, Colmbia, SC 29223-4905.

A copy of the nomination and information on the National Register and the Federal tax provisions are also available from the same address upon request.

For more information on the Pelzer Historic District, call Dianne Lollis at 847-5743 or Larry Joe Coker at 243-9120.