Lynchburg has another historic district on its books.
On Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources announced a collection of six industrial buildings near the 600 and 700 blocks of 12th Street has been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register, named the 12th Street Industrial Historic District. This paves the way for the buildings included in the district to be eligible for state and federal historic tax credits, giving developers a financial incentive to complete major renovations on the properties.
According to a news release from VDHR announcing the district’s formal listing on the register along with five other historic buildings or areas around the state, the 12th Street Industrial Historic District was approved because of its history as a major industrial area for the Hill City from the 1800s through the mid-20th century.
“In the mid-1800s, 12th Street emerged as a center for tobacco, with industrial enterprises expanding west from the James River and Kanawha Canal and railroad operations in the Lower Basin,” the release said. “Following the Civil War, the corridor grew through the late 1800s with construction of new tobacco factories and warehouses, attracting a large African American workforce.”
Katie Gutshall, a preservation planner with the Roanoke-based firm Hill Studio that prepared the district’s application, said last month the push to create the district came both from the area’s history and real estate developer Danny George, who waseyeing 712 12th St. for a renovation project.
George, the project manager for the 115-room TheVirginian Hotel set to open on Church Street, said in December 2017 he aimed to turn the 18,000-square-foot former Virginia Laundry Facility building into 29 loft apartments. He could not be reached for comment about the historic district designation Tuesday.
The oldest building in the 2.5-acre district, the Knight Building at 612 12th St., is a former tobacco warehouse dating back to 1845. It is the last of the 19 tobacco factories used as hospitals during the Civil War left standing in Lynchburg, according to the district’s nomination form submitted to VDHR.
According to Anne Nygaard, with the city’s planning division, the district is the 11th historic district in Lynchburg, which also has historic districts in neighborhoods such as Garland Hill, Daniel’s Hill, Rivermont and other old areas of the city.
VDHR Architectural Historian Mike Pulice said the district was determined eligible to be listed on the register in September 2017 and was considered by the department’s State Review Board at its March 15 meeting.
Now that the district has been approved, it will be sent to the National Parks Service to be considered to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The criteria for being listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places is the same.
Being listed on the register does not protect buildings from being demolished or otherwise altered, according to the release.
“Listing a property in the state or national registers is honorary and sets no restrictions on what a property owner may do with his or her property,” the release said. “The designation is first and foremost an invitation to learn about and experience authentic and significant places in Virginia’s history.”