Fort Madison Historic District
Fort Madison Historic District, continues their mission of protecting the historic significance of our District while looking at opportunities for the future. With community support, we became a recognized Main Street America, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation community. Acting as a non-profit organization, our mission is to enhance, beautify, and revitalize the downtown district within district borders through use of volunteer and local efforts as well as state and federal monetary and professional assistance, with a focus to improve the historical and economic health of all public and private structures within the district.
Our historic business district has been going through a major transformation and continues to reinvent itself with upper-story living spaces being created as well as new and improved commercial opportunities. Thanks to state programs and local investment, we’ve been seen 13 properties receive a facelift bringing back the character of yesteryear. Also, we have had 14 new upper-story apartments come on line- and filled within 3 months. There’s still more to do, but we feel we are working in the right direction. Our strong commercial and professional services have made Fort Madison a great place to visit and proves itself a one-stop-shop.
We are a proud Preserve America community!
The City of Fort Madison is currently a Certified Local Government (CLG) and is proud of their active Historic Preservation Commission. This commission works with the local Historic District to educate residents and property owners of the financial incentives available to them for the restoration of historic properties. Typically, funding options are only available to properties that are zoned for commercial use.
While there are certain grant opportunities with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the State of Iowa, the majority of financial incentives available to property owners consist of tax-related incentives such as tax freezes and credits.
As the downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Historic District supports the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. You may find these standards on the National Park Service website. This site is a great tool for those interested in learning more about the difference between preservation, restoration and rehabilitation as well.
Often, when working with historic structures, contractors and property owners seek guidance and professional help from those with historic preservation experience. We highly suggest reading the 47 different Preservation Briefs available, which are the leading technical guidelines in the industry, in addition to the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation. Some of the topics for owners of residential and commercial properties include:
- Re-pointing Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings
- Repair of Historic Wooden Windows
- Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts.
DOWNTOWN DESIGN GUIDELINES
The Historic Downtown District partnered with the State Historic Preservation Commission to create downtown design guidelines which serve as a guide for recommendations on all future renovations that property owners of downtown buildings may undertake. At this stage, the document serves as a guide on how to retain the historic character of our built environment, while remaining sustainable and practical. There is currently no formal review process for the City of Fort Madison. However, if state or federal funding is used for renovations, typically the designs must adhere to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
OLD WINDOWS MATTER!
Don't throw them out just yet! So often building owners fall into the habit of just buying new, when the old windows just a need a little TLC. There are tons of resources out there to help you determine if: your windows are salvageable; will be energy efficient (yes, that's right!); affordable; and Green! The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great website that allows you to explore historic windows. Still a little skeptical? Then check out this study from the Center for Resource Conservation in Boulder, Colorado. Fort Madison Riverfront Business District has offered window workshops in the past, led by national preservation experts such as Bob Yapp. We have copies of the DVD available upon request, just ask!
Keep checking back to see if we have any upcoming workshops!
GOT LEAD PAINT?
GOT LEAD PAINT?
Don't freak out! It's a relatively common issue and precautionary measures do not have to be complicated or expensive. If you are working with a building built before 1978 (and we know most of you are), you can almost be assured painted surfaces may contain lead. In addition, the soil surrounding the building and the dust within the building could test positive. Lead can be extremely harmful, especially when ingested. Children young enough to be chewing on painted surfaces or dust-contaminated objects are especially at risk. But that doesn't mean you must rip out all historic building fabric covered with lead paint. It also doesn't mean that it is impossible to rehabilitate and restore historic buildings in a lead-safe manner.
New regulations regarding working with lead paint went into effect in April 2010. In response to concerns about how the regulations will affect preservation work across the country, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has developed information on lead safety for preservationists. Their website includes information on the new regulations, FAQs, and links to other online guidance. Be sure also to review information at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Several years ago, the National Park Service prepared a preservation brief on lead-based paint in historic buildings. Although it is not updated with information on the recent regulations, it can assist you in reducing lead hazards in your historic building. Here in southeast Iowa and the Fort Madison area, we have contractors who are certified in lead safety and have preservation experience. Don't forget to ask your contractor for proof that they are certified in lead safety and know the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
HAVE HISTORIC MATERIAL/ITEMS THAT YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE OR GET RID OF?
Click here to see the architectural terms that describe most of our downtown buildings.
If so, then consider donating them to Preservation Station! Preservation Station is a non-profit organization that salvages material (doors, windows, trim, appliances, tiles, lamp shades, hardware, etc.) from historic buildings. They are located in downtown Burlington (213 Valley Street), and they are a great resource for finding some great buys on original material that once adorned southeast Iowa's historic buildings! And remember, anything you donate is tax deductible! Here's the brochure.
If you ever have any questions about your historic property, check out the below State resources or contact the Fort Madison Partners!
We are a proud Preserve America community!
Interested in Iowa historic preservation?
Consider becoming involved or joining