A portion of Charlottesville’s Belmont neighborhood has been added to a list of important places kept by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
“The significance is that a historic City neighborhood is being recognized and honored as a tangible reminder of our history,” said Mary Joy Scala, the city’s historic preservation planner. “We now have a permanent record of what is existing in Belmont at this moment in time, regardless of what may happen in the future.”
City Council agreed to sponsor a nomination for the North Belmont Historic District to be added to the Virginia Landmarks Register.
The next step is to move on for federal recognition.
“The DHR now forwards the nomination to National Park Service and if all goes well it should be added to the National Register of Historic Places in early 2018,” Scala said.
The state register was established in 1966 and is the official list of “properties important to Virginia’s history” reads the website of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Being on the list does not convey any protections against demolition. The city also does not have an architectural design control district for the Belmont area.
“The national and state registers are official lists of places in VA recognized as having architectural, archaeological, or historic significance,” Scala said. “They enable property owners to qualify for state and federal historic tax credits for rehabilitation.”
Other properties on the state register include the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, the Albemarle County Courthouse District, the Rugby Road-University Corner Historic District and several dozen individually protected properties.
The 75-acre Belmont district covers 392 contributing structures and 88 non-contributing structures.
The current street grid matches what was laid out in 1891 by the Belmont Land Company, a corporation named after the 551-acre Belle Mont estate that had been owned by a man named Slaughter Ficklin. The current neighborhood contains homes that were built to serve a growing Charlottesville.
“Belmont initially provided much-needed worker housing for the industries located along the nearby railroad tracks,” reads the city’s application which was written by consultant Debra McClane of Richmond. “Today the neighborhood continues to draw residents who walk to employment in downtown.”
The southern border of the district is Monticello Avenue, which was widened in 1960 according to the application.
The development of Belmont in the late 19th and early 20th centuries matches the contemporary era in which the city is experiencing changes in the built environment.
“Belmont was part of the suburban expansion that occurred in Charlottesville and Albemarle County during the late nineteenth century and included such areas as Fry’s Spring, Rose Hill and the Preston estate,” McClane wrote.
“Newly created land development companies purchased estates and farms adjacent to the city limits, platted them for residential development, then sold the lots either to investors or to residents seeking to build their own homes.”
Earlier this year Council created the Woolen Mills Village Conservation District which covers 85 properties on East Market Street and Chesapeake Street. Under that arrangement, a landowner must get approval from the Board of Architectural Review before demolishing contributing structures or before new ones are built.
In September, Council agreed to spend $12,000 to conduct a historic survey of the Rose Hill neighborhood to prepare for that community to possibly become a conservation district.