First phase of historic buildings study completed

By Per Peterson

There is already one downtown Tracy building on the National Register of Historic Places, and sometime in the near future, there might be more.

New History, a team based out of Minneapolis, gave a presentation to the Tracy City Council on Monday to offer results of a Phase I reconnaissance survey that studied a number of Tracy structures to determine their potential historic significance.

The project included two components: the development of a historic context of downtown commercial and civic development and the survey, which included 35 properties.

The survey results indicated that an approximately one and one-half block area along 3rd Street containing 28 properties should receive additional research as a potential Tracy Downtown Commercial Historic District. This is the area that is recommended for a Phase II intensive-level survey. One property located within these boundaries, the First National Bank building, has already been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Principal investigator from New History Lauren Anderson said two properties stood out as having the most potential to be added to the NRHP list and were recommended for property evaluation: the Municipal Building and Armory and the bandshell in Central Park. These would be studied along with a number of other buildings that would make up the potential Tracy Commercial Historic District.

“The potential district that we identified includes 28 buildings that were built between 1883 and 1960 along 3rd Street,” Anderson said. “A good number of these buildings were constructed by 1930, but almost half of them were built after 1930 and in the ‘40s and ‘50s. A lot of buildings continued to see improvements and other updates through the 1960s.”

Anderson said the timeline of the construction of many buildings makes Tracy unique, in that new construction in many towns stopped during the Great Depression and World War II.

“Even in the ‘50s, a lot of small towns suffered from the impact of freeways and shopping centers,” said Anderson.

The City of Tracy last year was awarded a grant form the Minnesota Historical Society to complete the reconnaissance survey. This past March, the City put out a Request for Proposals to complete the project, and New History was selected for the project. The report given Monday was the culmination of six months of research. The next phase of the project requires a separate grant, in which the City will apply for sometime next month. The grant would pay for between 80%-90% of the project.

“Ultimately, this is an economic development tool,” said Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen. “It provides not just interests from a tourism standpoint, but also real dollars you can bring to a community from foundations or other sources (and) tax credits for other people who might want to fix up their buildings.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.