Jackson merchants consider historic district

Monday, March 14, 2005
Direct Line Marketing at 113 W. Main St. in Jackson

Uptown Jackson merchants are hoping that status as a historical district will give them an economic boost and aesthetic lift to the area.

Melinda Winchester, a researcher from Jackson, is currently collecting information for status on the national register of historic places. Soon, she will submit the request to the state for the historical status. In six or seven months, Tom Strickland said, the merchants' request should be approved by the Federal Park Service. Strickland owns a building in the uptown area.

Several buildings along High and Main Streets, as well as the Courthouse and two businesses on Court Street, will be included in the district. All told, 30 buildings are within the district's limits with 24 to 26 of them contributing.

"We're working with owners of buildings with metal facades and some have agreed to take those off," said Strickland, who has spearheaded the effort for historic designation. "Two others are considering whether they can."

The distinction as a recognized historic building will allow building owners to receive tax credits if they wish to restore their buildings back to the original look.

Tracy Bonner, owner of Tracy's Place, a popular coffee shop on Main Street, is passionate about her old building and about the history of uptown Jackson.

"This is thrilling," she said. "This area is too beautiful to let go downhill and not make it a showcase."

Some uptown merchants argue that the status will spur more tourism. Some of the buildings date back as far as the 1890s. Strickland said some money will be spent on marketing the district with signs visible around the town.

The Cape Girardeau County Commission recently allowed the courthouse to be included after being assured that the federal government would have no authority on how to maintain the building unless it received the tax breaks.

That decision allowed Jones Drug and Harold's Jewelry to be included in the district as well.

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