MUSCATINE, Iowa – Fair Oaks, a subdivision of Muscatine next to Weed Park, took a step closer to being placed on the National Registry of Historic Places when it was announced that the City of Muscatine has received a $17, 245 Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) grant from the State of Iowa.
Working in conjunction with the Muscatine Historic Preservation Commission, the City of Muscatine will now prepare the nomination forms for the Fair Oak Historic District.
“This would be the third historic district in Muscatine and the first since 2008,” Dave Gobin, Community Development Director for the City of Muscatine, said. “This is one of the oldest residential districts in Muscatine with a history and architectural style that makes the district unique. Every home will be profiled as to its style and condition.”
One of the benefits to being placed on the National Registry of History Places is that building owners can quality for tax breaks and financial assistance programs for rehabilitation projects.
“Like the other two districts (Downtown and West Hill), having Fair Oaks placed on the National Registry will help preserve the historic nature of this district and of this town,” Gobin said.
The Fair Oaks Historic District is centered on the southwest portion of land historically owned by Dr. James and Mary Weed including their two story brick Gothic revival house built in 1852-54.
The Fair Oaks Addition was laid out in 1908 with 101 lots including two with pre-1865 houses. The overall design and promotion of the addition reflects ideals of the period including curvilinear streets, proximity to a park (the 72-acre Weed Park was donated to the City of Muscatine in 1899 by the Weed’s), and landscape improvements. In October 1926 the Fair Oaks Addition and perimeter additions were named Muscatine’s first “restricted residence district” in 1926 to help protect its residential qualities.
An April 2013 architectural and historical survey prepared for the Muscatine Historic Preservation Commission by Spark Consulting laid out the preliminary boundaries of the Fair Oaks neighborhood (east of Park Avenue, north of Washington Street, immediately west of Weed Park, and south of the community college property on the east side of Muscatine). A total of 135 properties were identified and surveyed as part of the project.
The 2012-2013 study confirmed that the Fair Oaks Addition would qualify for nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places. The nomination process will begin with final research of the historic district by a group of volunteers and Spark Consulting.
“This is a $25,000 project,” Gobin said. “The $17,000 state grant is matched by a monetary donation from the Friends of Muscatine Historic Preservation and the in-kind work of the many volunteers.”
Building on the research completed in 2013, additional research will be completed on individual properties to identify their history, significance, and integrity. The research will also include gathering more data on Weed Park and determining the final boundary and contributing resources for the historic district.
A draft of the nomination with supporting materials (photos, maps, etc.) will be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and to the Muscatine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC) in April 2019. Review and revisions will be completed over the course of the next seven months before the final nomination is forwarded to the National Park Service in November of December 2019. It is anticipated that the historic district will be approved and listed in February 2020.