Sugar Loaf’s move toward historic district designation

| 20 Feb 2024 | 11:26

Last week Historic Preservation Consultant Neil Larson, NY State Historic Preservation Specialist Tabitha O’Connell and historians Richard Hull and Clif Patrick conducted a walking tour through Sugar Loaf to assess properties for Historic District consideration.

Sugar Loaf is seeking to join its neighbors in Warwick and Goshen as historic districts, along with Newburgh, Montgomery, New Paltz, Liberty and Monticello.

Being listed as an historic district in the NY State and National Register offers prestige and benefits, such as federal tax credits for commercial buildings and grants for non-profit-owned properties.

Professor Hull added, “Warwick, getting its historic designation in 1984 was definitely a stimulant in people wanting to fix up their properties and valuing them more in their own perception.”

The experts were quick to debunk the misconceptions as to why certain properties were excluded, as this application is specific for the commercial district of Sugar Loaf.

Initially, the application included a wider area of farms and other significant properties. However, SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) disqualified them as geographically too distant from the commercial center, or not eligible as a farm.

Notably, the historic Seligman Center, considered a farm by SHPO, was excluded. But Ms. O’Connell and Mr. Larson clarified that farms or outlying buildings can still apply for individual designation or together as a rural historic district.

They also dispelled the misconception that historic designation affects property assessments or raises taxes as numerous studies have disproved. Or that the government has the right to tell owners what they can do with their properties.

The recent hamlet walk refined the historic district boundaries, which included such historical landmarks as the Methodist Church, the pre-fab Sears Roebuck house and Sutton house. SHPO was particularly impressed with the craft village history and tradition, which they agreed was important to sustain and rejuvenate.

The next step is for Ms. O’Connell and Mr. Larson to prepare and submit a draft nomination this spring at which point property owners will be contacted, outlining the process and seeking comments. A public meeting will follow where the owners can question, comment, and vote on the submission.

If approved by the property owners, the final nomination package will be submitted to the NY State Review Board for review at the June 2024 meeting and then sent to the National Park Service for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Chester Town Board, past and present, has been very supportive of this project, including the hiring of historic architecture expert and consultant Neil Larson who has a stellar record of getting historic districts approved.

If readers want to know more about the process and eligibility requirements, they can get information at:

With the recent county purchase of Sugar Loaf Mountain, the turning over of Kings Highway to the town and the potential Historic Designation in the National Register, Sugar Loaf is going through a wonderful transition for an even brighter future.

Jeff Zahn