Downtown Charlotte named to National Register of Historic Places

City officials expect increased ‘historical tourism’ after federal designation

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TUESDAY, Oct. 20 — The city of Charlotte is gaining some newfound national acclaim after its downtown was named this week to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The first and easiest benefit is the tourism angle,” said Bryan Myrkle, the city’s community development director. “People into historical tourism will actually seek these places out and check them out. Charlotte is in the middle of the mitten, so to speak, and we just don’t have some of the geographic features that draw in crowds elsewhere.”

Charlotte was one of 19 additions nationally to the registry that were designated last week. In addition to making Charlotte a larger blip on history buffs’ maps of Michigan, a spot on the National Register also makes available incentives like grants and tax credits that could foster additional economic investment and subsequently increase property values.

Myrkle said Charlotte — with dozens of historic homes and businesses — first attempted to secure a spot on the National Register through Gov. Rick Snyder’s “Project Rising Tide,” designed to give “special attention” to struggling communities.

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network later pitched in more than $30,000 to conduct a historical study of sorts, which was then sent to the National Park Service for federal consideration. After a few delays in recent years, a decision was finally made this month.

“This also offers individual residents a chance for their home to gain some extra prominence,” Myrkle added. “We can use this study to give them some historical context about their properties and then signs can be made for residents to display at their homes.”

Myrkle said the designation doesn’t carry restrictions that prohibit certain types of home improvements. Historic buildings that are drastically altered, however, could be removed from the National Register if they’ve lost their “historical significance,” Myrkle said.

“It’s just a little bit of extra attention on a city that could use the spotlight,” Myrkle added.

The portion of the city of Charlotte listed on the National Registry is defined as the Charlotte Central Historic District and runs along Cochran Avenue and other adjacent streets. It’s bordered by McClure Street to the north and by Henry Street to the west.

Originally known as Eaton Center or Carmel, Charlotte was first incorporated about four years after Lansing in 1863.

Myrkle said local residents and business owners can expect to receive additional information from the city about the federal designation next month — including options for historical signage on their properties as well as potential grant funding opportunities.

More than 95,000 properties — including nearly 2,000 in Michigan — have been listed on the National Register to date, which is reserved for places deemed worthy by the federal government of preservation for their historical significance.

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