A third historic district could be established in Moscow.

The Moscow Historic Preservation Commission is discussing the possibility of a historic district in the “Swede Town” area of the city, or the east-central part of town.

Moscow Planning Manager Mike Ray, who serves as city staff liaison to the commission, said the potential district area has not been defined but could be generally bound by Sixth Street to the north, State Highway 8 or Spotswood and Mabelle streets to the south, Hayes Street to the east and Jefferson Street to the west.

Former Historic Preservation Commission Chairwoman Wendy McClure was the driving force behind the potential historic district and that over the years the commission recognized many homes in the area could be eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, Ray said.

Ray and McClure said they do not know exactly why the area is referred to as “Swede Town” but they assume it was a section of town that attracted Swedish residents early in Moscow’s history.

Moscow’s two existing historic districts are Fort Russell and Downtown. Ray said a historic district documents the historic character of an area.

“When you’re in a historic district like we’ve seen in Fort Russell, there’s a higher likelihood of people kind of taking ownership and pride in that area,” Ray said.

He said homeowners tend to preserve the historic character of their homes in historic districts.

For the potential Swede Town district, Ray said the commission first needs to conduct a reconnaissance survey to review the historic character and document the properties in the neighborhood to determine if it is eligible to become a historic district.

Some commission members, like McClure, are volunteering to document some of the properties in the neighborhood, he said. Properties at least 50 years in age are generally old enough to be considered historic, according to the National Park Service website.

Typically, Ray said at least 50 percent of the buildings in the district need to contribute to the historic character of the neighborhood for a historic district to be established.

In the next couple years, Ray said the commission will decide whether or not to hire a consultant to perform the formal reconnaissance survey.

Then, the district would need to be nominated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the federal government would need to approve the nomination. Ray said establishing a historic district takes several years.

Ray said the commission also is supportive of the University of Idaho working to establish a historic district on campus because of the number of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. University officials have discussed the concept over the last couple years, he said.

“I think it’s a resource for Moscow and it would be fun to have a third district,” McClure said. “And if university comes through that would be a great one with its own character as well.”

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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