Scranton neighborhood to be listed on National Register of Historic Places

An area of town heretofore dwarfed by the venerable Ohio City and Tremont neighborhoods is on the verge of getting a brand of its own.
 
Last month, the historic preservation consulting firm Naylor Wellman, LLC, presented a 120-page nomination to the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board (OHSPAB) for the Scranton South Side Historic District to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was handily approved. OHSPAB will further prepare the document, and then recommend the listing to the National Park Service, which makes the final designation on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.
 
"We feel very confident," says Diana Wellman of achieving the final listing, adding she expects the remainder of the process to take 60 to 90 days.
 
The Scranton South Historic District is essentially both sides of Scranton Road from Parafine Avenue to the north and to Valentine Avenue to the south and the grid of residential streets east of Scranton between Holmden Avenue and Valentine, bordered to the east by Interstate 71. The district includes a total of 453 commercial, institutional and residential buildings.
 
"This really gives this area of town an identity as a community," says Wendy Naylor. "They're now thinking of themselves as the Scranton South Side Historic District."
 
"Everybody kind of knows where Scranton is," adds Wellman. "Sitting between Ohio City and Tremont, (the district) does not have the presence with a name. This really gives the district an opportunity to be seen in the community, and to turn the light back onto it after being shadowed by Ohio City and Tremont."
 
In addition to establishing a sense of place, the listing will make income-producing buildings within the newly designated district eligible for state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.
 
Wellman explains, "The buildings in the district right now—being within the district—this does not change the review process when they decide to make a physical change on the building."
 
"That was a very important distinction to the neighborhoods that were involved in this," adds Naylor.
 
Tremont West Development Corporation enlisted Naylor and Wellman to handle the administration of the Scranton listing project. The duo, which joined up as a firm in 2013, has listed more than 34 individual sites and districts on the National Register of Historic Places. Their respective and combined efforts have garnered $53.6 million in federal historic tax credits. More specifically, their efforts helped to land $3.1 million in state historic tax credits for the Fairmont Creamery project. They also recently completed the nomination document for the Woodland-Larchmere Commercial Historic District, which will be on OHSPAB's June agenda.
 
Points of architectural interest in the new historic district include the Cleveland Public Library's South Branch at the northwest corner of Scranton and Clark (temporarily closed, also known at the Carnegie Library) and the Emerson Casket Mansion, 2438 Scranton, which was built as a residence in 1852, subsequently changed hands and was augmented in the early 1900's with a one story brick addition that served as a casket showroom. Wellman and Naylor also suggest a stroll through the residential streets in the district's southeast corner, which feature an eclectic assortment of vintage and century structures.

Commercial landmarks within the Scranton South Historic district include the Tremont Taphouse and now the Fairmont Creamery project, among others.

"There's a good amount of love and care in these homes," says Wellman of the renovated units, adding while tax credit projects are interesting, they're also about financial incentive. "But the people who do painstaking renovations on their home? That' s more of a personal quest."
 
Regarding those homeowners, she continues, "What happened in the Scranton Historic District is kind of like a fever. Once one person starts doing it, another person starts doing it. Those people are kind of like the catalysts that drive the National Register of Historic Places."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit erinobrien.us for complete profile information.
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