Historic Survey of Downtown Sylvan Grove

1910 Decoration Day Parade – looking south on North Main Street (Sylvan Grove Historical Society)



Downtown Sylvan Grove will be nominated to the Register of Historic Kansas Places in May (tentatively).  When the nomination has been finalized, all property owners, along with the City Council, will be sent a letter notifying them of the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review’s (KHSBR) public meeting where it will be considered for approval.  In the weeks leading up to that meeting (and at the meeting), property owners will be able to express whether they concur with or object to the nomination as the KHSBR takes local sentiment into consideration on their decisions. Instructions for doing that will be in the letter.

One of the primary reasons for achieving historic designations is to open up financial incentives to downtown property owners.  A “Financial Incentives for Historic Properties Workshop” is scheduled for Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

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In 2018, the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation (LCEDF) received a grant from the Kansas Historical Society to conduct a survey of downtown Sylvan Grove. Additional grant funding from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, Network Kansas, the City of Lincoln, the City of Sylvan Grove and the Lincoln County Historical Society were received in order to take the additional steps necessary to research and write the subsequent nomination to the Register of Historic Kansas Places.

The grant funding allowed the LCEDF to hire Brenda Spencer of Spencer Preservation to conduct a survey which provided the initial information needed to determine if the downtown is eligible for any historic designations.

Upon the completion of her survey work, Brenda submitted a report (see below) of her findings that included the determination, with agreement by the Kansas Historical Society, that the downtown is eligible for listing on the Register of Historic Kansas Places. A determination was also made whether each property is considered ‘contributing’ or ‘non-contributing’ to the overall district’s historic character.

The survey itself is research (not an actual nomination) intended to ‘start the conversation’ about the value historic designations can bring to property owners and the community. Primary benefits of designation include marketing opportunities and financial incentives.  Should the community decide to move forward with an actual nomination to the Register of Historic Kansas Places, property owners with ‘contributing’ buildings could access state-level grants and tax credits to help maintain and improve their properties.

A public meeting was held on June 18 in Sylvan Grove to present the final survey report to the community, discuss how these determinations do (or do not) affect property owners, and answer any questions or concerns attendees may have. The consensus from the meeting was to proceed with the official designation.

At that time, Terry Lilak was hired to write the formal nomination.  This process included taking photos of all downtown properties, researching the overall history of the downtown and analyzing the historic character of the district and each property.

If you have any questions about the survey or on the benefits of historic designations, please feel free to contact the LCEDF at [email protected], 785-524-8954, or visit the office in the county courthouse at 216 E Lincoln Ave., Lincoln, Kansas.

Additional Information

Sylvan Grove Historic Survey 2019 – Final report includes many historic and current photos of the downtown, identification of various architectural styles, methodology for survey work and final recommendations.

Sylvan Grove Presentation 2019 – June Presentation to the Sylvan Grove community.

Kansas Historic Resources Inventory – Database includes detailed information on each property within the district. Search the database by scrolling down to the “Survey Project” field and select “Sylvan Grove – Downtown Survey (HPF 2018)”.

FAQs on Sylvan Grove’s survey and historic designations – Answers frequently asked questions about the survey process, what ‘contributing’ and ‘non-contributing’ means to a property owner, and how designation can impact property owners.

Article in the Lincoln Sentinel 06-14-19

Map of Potential Downtown Historic District in Sylvan Grove

List of Surveyed Properties in Downtown Sylvan Grove