Montrose, CO — The City Council voted unanimously to designate the century-old; Potato Growers Association building located at 39 West Main Street as a historic property. The building is now the second historic structure to be added to the city’s registry since the program began earlier this year.
The historic brick structure was built in 1908 after the original wooden structure burned earlier that same year. The building was a warehouse for the Montrose Fruit Growers Association, the Montrose Fruit and Produce Association, and, later for the Montrose Potato Growers Association.
The building is significant for its association with the agricultural history of Montrose and the Western Slope. Ordinance 2487 approved by the City Council Tuesday, describes the building “a very intact representation of an agricultural warehouse, as reflected in the brick walls, stone foundation, flat roof, loading docks, and minimal ornamentation."
Historical records indicate that wool was stored in the warehouse throughout the 1940s and potatoes were stored in the building in the 1950s, according to David Fishering, a co-owner of the building. He said additional documents show the building was used for cold storage for local restaurants in the 1960s.
"According to reports from the period, the design of the building was going to be – ‘modern in every respect’- so not only do you have an important building to the people of Montrose, but to the architecture of the time and the fact that it was a very modern warehouse at the turn of the century," Fishering said.
Earlier this year, the City of Montrose earned designation as a Certified Local Government or CLG, a significant achievement in furthering historic preservation efforts in Montrose.
This designation along with the city's Historic Preservation or – HP - ordinance, affords owners of historic downtown buildings the opportunity to pursue historic designation for their properties. The ordinance allows the city to use the CLG status as a way to designate buildings as part of the city's own historic registry.
When a building were to be registered for HP, its owners become eligible for tax credits and other incentives from both state and federal programs for the preservation and restoration of their buildings.
"Not only do we as developers gain access to historic preservation funding, which will help ensure that the rehabilitation happens and that it happens in the appropriate manner in which the building deserves, but the recognition cements the building’s place in our community as the cultural and economic hub that it once was," Fishering said.
The HP ordinance allows building owners to decide whether to apply for designation and serves as a tool for them to pursue preservation efforts. Once a building is designated as a historic property, that designation stays with the building permanently. The program is designed for buildings that are at least 50 years and older.
"When we preserve buildings in our community, we ensure the unique and visible part of our heritage remains for generations to come," said Chelsea Rosty, the city's director of business innovation and tourism. “The potato growers building was once a center of commerce and culture. Our hope is through this process, it will become that again."
Along with the CLG status, councilors created the City of Montrose's Historic Preservation Commission and appointed seven individuals from the community to serve, three-year overlapping terms; on the board.
Once an application for historic property designation is received, the commission works to determine if the proposal fits the criteria within the HP ordinance. Owners of properties that earn the designation are required to closely follow local and state preservation guidelines when altering the property. Improvement or preservation projects are subject to financial review to determine if they qualify for city investment.
"We can’t wait to get started. I think once we really get going the community is going to love it," Fishering said. "We plan to have some events throughout the next 12 months that will give folks a chance to peek inside and see what some of our plans are, which should be a lot of fun for everyone. The goal is to get the building back to being a center of commerce and activity and hopefully really keep the redevelopment momentum going over here on West Main."
For more information about the commission visit: www.cityofmontrose.org/history.
For more city news visit CityOfMontrose.org.