Thursday, the Santa Rosa County Board of CountyCommissioners moved to delay placing a historical marker on the FisherHamiltonBuilding as requested Monday by the Santa Rosa Historical Society (SRHS) without objection. The BOCC did so after the Milton Historic Preservation Board (MHPB) asked to review the request and present an opinion to the commission in order to allow the City of Milton-appointed MHPB and the Milton City Council to come back with a recommendation.
During Monday’s BOCC committee meeting, SRHS President Vernon Compton asked for a “15 inch by 12 inch bronze plaque” recognizing the FisherHamiltonBuilding’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
In Compton’s presentation, he included a quote from Ross Pristera, historic preservationist with the University of West Florida Historic Trust, which included details on the building’s history and said, “Listed as a contributing structure in a National Register District, the building has been identified as a significant architectural element in the context of downtown. The National Register designations for a contributing structure is at the same level of importance as an individually listed building…” For more history of the building, read Compton’s research in the May 23 story “FisherHamiltonBuilding may go.”
Commissioner Bob Cole supported the plan. He said, “I think it has a lot to say about the history of our community and falls in line with the ImogeneTheatre and some of the life that’s being breathed back into downtown Milton.”
Thursday, Mary Golden, vice chairman of Milton’s Historic Preservation Board addressed the BOCC saying, “We are the board charged with making decisions within the historic district.” She drew a distinction between the MHPB and the SRHS noting the SRHS is a nonprofit organization while her board is appointed by the City of Milton and falls under Sunshine Law.
Golden’s concern fell on whether or not the FisherHamiltonBuilding is still a historic structure after the renovations made to it over the years. She said the MHPB’s “guidelines tell us if you were to remove everything that has been altered to a building, then would it still be the original historic structure?” She said a historic marker on a building the MHPB determines it is no longer historic “if the general public reads it, they would be reading a falsehood or a lie.” She asked the BOCC to let the MHPB meet before making a decision on the plaque.
Commissioner Jayer Williamson researched on how FEMA money could be used for renovating after a weather event of a building with such a marker. He found if federal money was necessary, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) would have stipulations how the outside of the building is altered in renovations. He said, “This building has been changed so much from what the original building was in 1877…that the façade on the outside is so much different that really they didn’t feel they wouldn’t dictate anything we did on the outside of the building unless it was the side that said Fisher Hamilton on it.”
Both Commissioners Jayer Williamson and Rob Williamson found a historic marker would not affect FDOT’s plans for the possibility of widening Highway 90. As Jayer Williamson put it, “It would not do anything to the project itself. It would not make it harder for this project to go downtown.” However, both commissioners supported deferring to the City of Milton for a recommendation. Rob Williamson said the BOCC should “make sure we follow the proper procedures and then we could feel comfortable we’re not making a decision that’s not aligned with what the City of Milton wants.”
Commission Chairman Don Salter said, “I don’t think the board should get involved in local city government decisions and processes.” He moved to delay the decision until hearing back from the MHPB and the City of Milton.