Final surveys of historic properties in Warren completed this week
BISBEE — It’s been a long time coming, but city residents and officials hope the final surveys of historic properties in Warren completed this week will bring the long awaited federal recognition of the community as a historic district.
Monday, staff of WestLand Resources Engineering and Environmental Services walked the streets to bring up to date the survey of the 100–plus-year-old homes as well as those built in the 1950s.
Tuesday, WestLand project manager Jennifer Levstik was reviewing a home on Campbell to see if any changes had been made to the exterior which altered the historic character of the homes surveyed years ago.
She noted many people had changed out their windows, which is acceptable as long as the exterior nature of the home has retained its historic façade.
Levstik noted this latest effort with the State Historic Preservation Office was to form an historic district similar to the designation given to Old Bisbee in 1980.
It will recognize the borough’s development plan from the early 1900s called the City Beautiful national movement. It was an urban planning guide that laid out all utilities and homes in a fashion that promoted friendly neighborhoods, provided proper sanitation and reduced risk of fire and other calamities.
Old Bisbee was a planners nightmare back in the day and a repeat of the bedlam building on the mountainsides was not what the people of Warren wanted back then. Miners built shacks all over the Mule Mountains in a helter skelter manner and suffered from fires and floods.
The city fathers wanted a better plan for Warren as copper mining brought people of all income levels looking to cash in on the magic metal’s wealth. They wanted a community that would fit the populace from those managing the mines, bank officials and business owners who added stores, pharmacies, a hospital and the self–made business entrepreneurs who provided all the services one would need in a bustling and ever growing city.
Most homes have retained their original character, which made the job easier for those who volunteered to walk the streets on a cold, cold morning to survey about 170 homes of the 777 original buildings in the effort that began almost two decades ago.
The city hired WestLand Resources Engineering and Environmental Services to lead the survey and help prepare the documents which have to go before “the Keeper,” the individual delegated with the authority by National Park Service to list properties and determine their eligibility for the National Register.
SHPO provided $20,000 in grant funding and the city put in $20,000 to match it to get the study completed.
Planner Melissa Hart said the survey was half the battle, as the city needed to assemble all the data and complete the paperwork for submission. She hopes SHPO will step in again and grant more funding to pay for the finalizing work.
Kathryn McKinney, with WestLand, was leading a small group, and said this effort should be the finalization of the homes surveyed for inclusion in the district.
Doug Dunn, former city councilman who lives in Warren, was ecstatic about the potential as he and others have been trying to get the community listed as a designated historical site.
“Warren deserves to be on par with Old Bisbee,” said resident and historian Judy Anderson. “This will help Warren’s businesses.”
Anderson walked the streets for the survey twice already and joked, “This is the last time I’m doing this.”
She and Dunn want to see Warren Ballpark designated as an historical site. The park was built in 1909 by the Calumet and Arizona Mining Co. and is the focal point of the City Beautiful movement. They plan to talk with the Bisbee Unified School District, which owns the park, so it can be individually designated along with the district.
Rex Jenney joined them on the walk. The Bisbee native came from Flagstaff to help out and to escape the cold and snow.
“We’re going to work hard and make this happen this time,” he said. “I think it needs it.”
Stephanie Brown, with WestLand, was leading a couple of volunteers along Vista Park. For Jerry and Shannon Roberts, it was the first time out as surveyors and they found the process engaging.
Shannon Roberts stated, “This whole program will enhance the integrity of Warren.”
Hart said this part of the process could take up to a year to get it before the Keeper who says yea or nay on historical designations. There can be a lot of back and forth on details which means the process could be a year maybe two to finalize the decision.
“This survey is being done from the street or sidewalk,” Hart emphasized. “We don’t have to knock on doors and talk to the residents because we are going for a district designation.”
The last time the city applied, officials received a rejection and this time she want to be sure it’s done the right way, she added.
Thankfully, most of the data gathered over the previous attempts is still useable she pointed out. It will just need to be updated.
City Manager Steve Pauken said, “It’s about time. We thought we had it all buttoned up and ready to go way back. Then the Keeper sent the city a rejection letter.”
Rather than proceed, the mayor and council put the designation on the back burner where it’s been for the past eight years.
Pauken said the residents themselves are supportive of the effort and want the designation.
“The Warren neighborhoods want it done,” he added. “God willing, we will get this one done right.”
So, for the next few days, there will be small groups of Warren residents with WestLand staff out and about to finish the survey of the homes. So don’t call the police if you see someone with a clipboard and a stack of forms in front of your house, as one resident did.