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Posted August 20, 2011 | comments Leave a comment

Mill town recognition

Review board to hear Forestville's historic district designation proposal next month

By Preston Knight -- pknight@nvdaily.com

QUICKSBURG -- The village of Forestville's history is about to make some of its own.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has been working on a 4-year-old nomination of the village as a historic district, an honorary distinction that would make it the first unincorporated area of Shenandoah County so designated, said David Edwards, the director of the agency's northern regional office.

A public meeting was held Thursday, and the nomination will be presented to a review board on Sept. 22.

In 2007, the Zirkle Mill Foundation first sought to have Forestville designated as a historic district. The effort was an extension of the organization's tireless effort a couple of years earlier to keep the mill on Quicksburg Road, instead of it moving to the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. Influential people across the state, including then-Gov. Mark Warner, became involved in that dispute, which eventually went the foundation's way.

The process of establishing an area as a historic district normally does not take so long, Edwards said, but his department wanted the foundation to discuss more with residents what the designation meant.

"They did their due diligence," he said.

Denman Zirkle, the acting president of the foundation, said it means everyone wins -- Forestville's history is formally recognized and, because it's an honorary designation, there are no restrictions on property owners. In fact, tax credits would be made available for them.

According to Edwards, if someone owns a "contributing" building -- a structure that contributes to Forestville's historical character -- and wants to rehabilitate it, he or she could be eligible for 25 percent off costs in their state income tax, and another 20 percent off federal income taxes in the case of commercial properties. The historic resources department would have to approve the rehabilitation.

Zirkle estimated there to be more than 30 property owners in Forestville, including himself.

"The objective is to preserve a mill town," he said. "It's only a win-win situation."

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