By Jaya Franklin
The Hampton Historic Preservation Commission is in the process of establishing a historic district.
The city has 18 buildings that officials would like to be included in the state's historic registry. The buildings are mostly on Main Street near City Hall.
"The city has never had a historic district established," said Roger "Steve" Ramsey, chairman of the Hampton Historic District. Ramsey said having official historic recognition has many advantages.
"You can apply for National Registry, after receiving the local [title]," said Ramsey, who noted that the main reason the committee applied for the title is to make it easier to get funding for restoration work within the downtown area.
"The (state) Department of Community Affairs and the Georgia Trust for Historical Preservation will all chip in [for the cause]."
Currently, the city's downtown area is being revitalized through a streetscape project. The city received a $500,000 transportation grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation earlier this year. The work will add sidewalks, benches, curbs, gutters, landscaping and a storm sewer system. The grant will cover 80 percent of the improvements, and the city is required to pay the additional 20 percent.
City officials hope the new look will bring new life to the once popular area. "In the 1880's, the City of Hampton was the economic engine for Henry County," said Ramsey.
Councilman Arley Lowe said the mayor and council are in favor of the historical district classification. "Right now, we're looking at the commercial district along Main Street," said Lowe. "This will benefit building owners and the city."
He said the historical title for the downtown buildings will help the city obtain grants and tax credits.
The HPC has submitted paperwork to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historical Preservation Division. The group has been working on the project for a couple of years. However, before the paperwork is complete, the organization is required to gather information about the historic sites.
"There is a process that you go through, including taking pictures of each building and stating why it is historical," said Ramsey. "You have to complete an application and hold public hearings."
As of Friday afternoon, Hampton Mayor R.W. Coley said neither he, nor the council, has signed a resolution authorizing the historical district. The item is listed on the city council's agenda for their regular public meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m.