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Chase City’s historical downtown district is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photos courtesy of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources) / January 20, 2021

Chase City’s downtown commercial and warehouse districts have been named to the National Register of Historic Places, part of the National Park Service.

The award became effective Dec. 11, although notice was only recently received by the Town.

Said Town Manager Dusty Forbes of the news, “This opens Chase City up to additional monies that can be used to help the town revitalize and grow. Once people begin fixing up these buildings, I believe it will help Chase City prosper.”

The National Register of Historic Places is an honorary designation that recognizes buildings, objects and sites of historical significance. The Chase City commercial and warehouse districts span 27 acres running through much of downtown along North Main, East 5th Street, West 4th Street, East 2nd Street, and East Sycamore Street. Buildings of historic significance within the district include the Southside Roller Mill, Banner Tobacco Warehouse, the Shadow Lawn private residence and the Robert E. Lee community center.

Properties deemed historic — those that contributed to the historic district designation — may qualify for low-interest loans, federal and state tax credits, and direct grants, according to Forbes.

Virginia’s Rehabilitation Tax Credit program provides a 25 percent tax credit on certain eligible expenses to property owners who rehabilitate their property according to historic preservation standards. Properties used for income producing activities may also qualify for a 20 percent federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit on qualifying expenses.

Qualifying expenses include work done to structural components of the building, architectural and engineering fees, construction period interest and taxes, construction management costs, reasonable developer fees, expenses related to new heating, plumbing and electrical systems, expenses related to updating kitchens and bathrooms, compliance with ADA, and fire suppression systems and fire escapes.

Acquisition costs and expenses attributable to additions or enlargements of the building are not eligible for federal or state rehabilitation tax credits. Site work and landscaping may qualify for state tax credits, but not under the federal program.

Chase City’s downtown commercial and warehouse districts were previously added to the Virginia Landmarks Register by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources because of the town’s early railroad history — a first step before being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

As part of their findings, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources noted that Chase City evolved from its mid-18th century farming roots into a center of commerce with the 1883 arrival of the Atlantic Richmond and Danville Railroad, which served the Piedmont area’s tobacco trade, lumber mills, and other agricultural activities. Many of Chase City’s downtown buildings reflect the mix of architectural designs — Italianate, Queen Anne, Industrial Commercial, Gothic Revival, Art Deco and Moderne — that were popular from the late 1800s to the late 1960s. Chase City’s heyday as a regional economic hub runs from 1873 when the town was incorporated to 1968 when its population began to decline.

Sixty-seven buildings within the downtown commercial and warehouse district were found to have historic significance and contributed to the designation. Among the more notable are:

» A commercial building at 237 North Main Street that houses Ben’s TV — one of the earliest commercial buildings in the district. It was constructed around 1905 as a general store.

» The former Town Hall at 301 North Main Street, which sits at the corner of Third and Main across from Chase City Produce, hosted movies and traveling shows in its second floor auditorium.

» F. B. Roberts’s Chase City Hardware Company at 110 East Fifth Street, built around 1913, now houses the Car Quest Auto parts store.

» The former Peoples Bank and Trust Company, now Town Hall, was constructed around 1916 at 319 North Main Street.

» The former Jeffreys Motor Company building, now Ellington Energy Services located at 211 North Main Street, was built around 1940 as an automobile showroom.

» Southside Roller Mill was built around 1912 at 6 East Third Street.

» Banner Tobacco Warehouse at 416 Boyd Street was constructed around 1915 on a lot near the railroad tracks to take advantage of the rail transportation to move local tobacco products around Virginia and North Carolina.

» The former Piedmont Service Station at the corner of North Main and E. Sycamore Streets was built around 1925.

» The Mecca Theater at 137 North Main Street was built in 1936.

» The Robert E. Lee building at 121 East Second Street began in 1931 as a primary school.

» Residential buildings include Shadow Lawn, located at 27 North Main Street, and the building at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets, which was originally constructed as a single-family residence in 1890.

MacCallum More Museum and Gardens and the Hudgins House, built in 1929 by Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Wren Hudgins and his wife, Lucy Morton Hudgins, were added to the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2010.

The former Chase City High School on Second Street was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and to the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1997. In 1991 the high school was re-adapted for use as affordable housing for the elderly and renamed Maple Manor Apartments.

Shadow Lawn, the private residence of Lisa and Glenn Gillispie, was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1981 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It is a regional expression of the Italianate style developed by prominent local architect and builder Jacob Holt.

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