The Excelsior Springs Historic Commission recently announced the creation of the Excelsior Springs Historic Preservation Awards Program to “celebrate the outstanding preservation projects that are recently and substantially completed in the City’s historic districts.

Councilwoman Sonya Morgan said the community created the city’s three historic districts to help preserve the unique historical story they tell in Excelsior.

“By placing them on a local register or a national register, we’ve said these places are special, they’re unique in character,” she said. “These neighborhoods create a story or an atmosphere that is part of what we want to retain and keep here and be able to tell to visitors to our community.”

The city began surveying their historic properties, she said, after they entered into a partnership with the state under the certified local government program. After bringing in a consultant to develop a survey plan for the community, they determined several different areas of the community with historic potential.

Morgan said the Commission began work to designate the most historic buildings, including St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Carnegie Library, Clay County State Bank (now the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives), Hall of Waters and Elms Hotel to a local landmarks register, prior to the Certified Local Government program. With the help of the CLG program, it became apparent they should designate entire historic districts.

“It just made more sense to designate historic districts then try to do all these properties individually because they all have a unique historic story that they tell in our community,” she said.

Melinda Mehaffy, economic development director, said the Historic Preservation Awards will be given to the most outstanding commercial and residential projects.

Private citizens, organizations, businesses or any one group who recently preserved a commercial or residential historic structure located within city’s historic districts will be eligible for the award. Excelsior’s historic districts include the Elms Historic District, Boarding House Historic District or Hall of Waters Historic District. The term “recently and substantially” will be applied liberally by the Commission and awards committee, she said.

Mehaffy said the commission intends to showcase exceptional projects in preservation, restoration and stewardship of structures within the City’s historic districts with the award.

“The Commission hopes that by recognizing exceptional works, it will encourage more quality restoration and preservation, as well as provide an opportunity to educate the public on some of the more outstanding historic structures within the City,” she said.

Projects can be nominated by the property owner, tenant, contractor or simply the passer-by from June 1-21. Mehaffy said projects that restore a historic structure in disrepair or vacant or abandoned to its former glory may be eligible for the award. She said eligible projects are those that have complied with the City’s Certificate process where applicable.

The selection process will be based on the project’s ability to serve as a model example for historic preservation, application of the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation or the overall quality of the work performed on the structure Nomination Forms can be found at the Hall of Waters or at cityofesmo.com.

The Preservation Awards ceremony will take place on July 10 at the Excelsior Springs Historic Preservation Commission meeting at the Council Chambers, Hall of Waters.

Mehaffy said the historic fabric of the community provides a large impact to Excelsior’s tourism economy.

“The preservation of our historic buildings is important for a twofold reason, 1) it protects the architectural integrity of the district in which the property is located and 2) through the renovation of these properties we are seeing improved market values,” she said.

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