Walworth United Methodist Church Listed On the National Register of Historic Places
April 25, 2017 / By Gene Bavis, Walworth Town Historian
A few years ago, while working on a list of historic sites for Wayne County, I discovered that the Town of Walworth had NO structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After attending a few preservation workshops and seminars, I invited Cynthia Howk of the Landmark Society of Western New York to speak to Walworth Historical Society and others who might be interested in learning about the National Register of Historic Places. This took place on October 20, 2014 at the Walworth United Methodist Church, and it worked! Pastor Jacque Ruth, Jessie Keymel and others from the church submitted a very detailed application for the Walworth United Methodist Church to be listed on the National Register.
The following description was taken from a flyer by the NYS Division of Historic Preservation. “Established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic properties that have been recognized as significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture. The Division for Historic Preservation in the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation coordinates the National Register program in New York State, as well as the parallel State Register program.”
There are five categories of historic properties that are eligible for listing: buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts. There are strict guidelines for acceptance. Properties and objects must retain the integrity associated with the category and be at least 50 years old. There are about 40 listings of National Register properties and districts here in Wayne County. Now Walworth can brag that we have one, too.
The National Register program started as a result of the Urban Renewal movement during the 1950s and 1960s when large numbers of historic structures were being demolished to build “new and better” downtowns. A prime local example occurred in the Village of Newark. While the program does not save all historic structures, it has brought more awareness of the value of historic buildings.
The properties on the list are significant and can help us create pride in our communities. There are also some economic benefits to the owners of listed properties. In some cases there are preservation tax credits, and non-profit organizations can sometimes qualify for grants. In the case of churches, there is a matching grant program from a foundation interested in preserving sacred sites and structures.
To learn more about the National Register of Historic Sites, you may want to visit https://www.nps.gov/nr/ .