From the buyboats of Deltaville to Rosegill Plantation in Urbanna, history surrounds residents and visitors alike in Middlesex County.
One of the many places where the past comes alive is in the Town of Saluda. Its arcaded courthouse complex, which served as the county seat beginning in 1852, is perhaps the most visible symbol of historic Saluda. Look beyond this well-known landmark, however, and you will soon see how resources ranging from the circa 1781 Bethany Inn at Leafwood to the Reconstruction-era Antioch Baptist Church narrate the 200-year development of this crossroads community.
In 2017, architectural historians identified Saluda as a historic district eligible for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. The proposed district would encompass the courthouse village at the intersection of General Puller Highway, Gloucester Road, and Oakes Landing Road.
Now, the county has an opportunity to pursue a Cost Share Survey and Planning grant offered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to oversee the documentary legwork to complete a nomination form to list the Saluda Historic District on the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
A VLR and National Register listing for the Saluda Historic District offer two noteworthy benefits to the community. First, listing provides official recognition of the unique history, architecture, and culture of Saluda. The honorary designation is a point of pride and the detailed documentation that accompanies the listing—most notably in a nomination form narrating Saluda’s history—can be used to spur community events and heritage tourism.
Second, listing on the state and national registers offers financial benefits to owners of historic properties within the district. A state and a federal historic rehabilitation tax credit provides dollar-for-dollar reductions in income tax liability for taxpayers who rehabilitate historic buildings in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
These tax credits recognize that expenses to repair and rehabilitate historic buildings usually incur extra costs for materials and skilled trades and crafts people. To offset these costs and encourage the reuse of historic buildings, there is a federal credit of 20%, and a state credit of 25% on eligible rehabilitation expenses. For some taxpayers whose rehabilitation projects qualify for both programs, they may claim combined credits of 45% on eligible rehabilitation costs. Through such preservation incentives as rehabilitation tax credits, State and National Register listing can stimulate engagement and investment in the historic resources that give Saluda its distinct identity.
While VLR and NRHP listing of the Saluda Historic District would provide several opportunities to the residents of Saluda, listing does not introduce any restrictions to those who own property in the district. Unlike a locally designated district, VLR and NRHP listing does not result in a requirement for property owners to seek permission for renovations or demolitions. Upon listing, those living and working in the Saluda Historic District would be able to continue using their properties exactly as they do today.
Recently, several Middle Peninsula towns including Mathews and Gloucester successfully listed historic districts on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. Today, the benefits of listing are apparent, as property owners in both districts have taken advantage of historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Citizens of Saluda interested in learning more about the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places are invited to attend a public information session scheduled for September 25, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Middlesex County Courthouse. Representatives from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Middlesex County Museum & Historical Society will be on hand to discuss this exciting opportunity and answer questions.