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City receives a $12,000 state grant it will match in the effort to hire a consultant to perform the work

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The city of Newberg will undertake a historic feature inventory utilizing a grant from the state.

The city of Newberg will spend an estimated $12,000 for an inventory of historic features in town, made up of an equal split of general fund money and a grant from the state.

The city was previously designated as a "Certified Local Government" by the State Historic Preservation Office in 2014, which then made the city eligible to apply for CLG grants.

Newberg applied for a grant from the state to survey historic features around the downtown area. To receive the grant, the city had to commit to a 100-percent local match. The funds would be used for a consultant who would create the inventory, write progress reports and give presentations to the public.

The city's Historic Preservation Commission asked city staff to start a project list that documents historic sidewalk features, which ultimately determined an inventory of historic features downtown.

This includes sidewalk and curb stamps, mail posts, horseshoe rings and historic rail tracks. The city is looking for a consultant to research the history of the items, and follow up with the state's Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service throughout that process.

Community Development Director Doug Rux said the commission has been wanting to do this inventory for the past few years and added that the importance of these old markers is that they tell the history of the town.

For example, the horse rings are where travelers would hitch their horse and buggies at the curbs. The sidewalk and curb stamps tell the stories of the contractors who made them, as back in the day the contractors would often imprint their company logos directly into the sidewalks. And the railroad lines tell the story of the trolley cars that used to run through town.

"That kind of information has never been catalogued before," Rux said.

The city has undertaken several measures to denote the historical features of the downtown area. For example, the city's historical society has been working to install commemorative, free standing pedestals in the downtown's area to describe different aspects of the city's past. These signs would be on public property and would eventually become city signs.

The inventory list and the signs fit in with the city's downtown improvement plan and tourism strategy, in that visitors and tourists to the city could gain better historical perspective of where they are visiting and what they are seeing.

Another recent addition to the city's list of historical calling cards was the Cameo Theater being added to the National Register of Historic Places -- an official list of buildings, structures and sites in the United States deemed worthy of preservation because of their historic significance. The theater, owned by Brian Francis, was built in 1937 as the Art Deco Cameo, and was later purchased by Francis's grandfather, Ted Francis, who had previously owned a competing theater.

Francis also owns the 99W Drive-In, which is also on the National Register. City officials have previously said having these two businesses on the national register is good for the city and for businesses, as it helps tourism events such as walking tours of historic places, while also just being locations visitors from out of town would likely go to.

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