New federal legislation aims to protect historical local sites

Turner seeks to extend fund that protected Dayton sites, seeks funding for damaged Wright Factory sites

Federal legislation was introduced Monday to extend funds that have protected historical sites in Dayton and beyond.

U.S. Reps. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., co-chairs of the Historic Preservation Caucus, introduced legislation Monday to reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). With bipartisan support, this legislation seeks to extend the fund, which rehabilitates significant historic sites, for 10 years.

“The Historic Preservation Fund has been instrumental in the Dayton region for recognizing the places that shape our communities and the people who inspire us,” Turner said. “It was key to establishing the Wright-Dunbar Village Historic District in West Dayton which was once home to the Wright Brothers and African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.”

The Dayton region is home to 238 National Register listings with an economic impact of more than $377 million, according to Turner’s office.

In 2019, two Wright airplane factory buildings on West Third Street were placed on the national historic registry, allowing them to access HPF dollars.

In late March, however, a weekend fire significantly damaged the former factory site.

With its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the site can be considered for historic preservation funds, a spokesman for Turner’s office said Monday. Sites have to apply for one of the grants under the HPF in order receive funding.

Turner’s office is looking into using Community Project Funding for the buildings, the spokesman said.

In March, Turner and his allies in the effort wrote to the chair and ranking members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Interior to request $225 million for the fund for fiscal 2024.

“At the heart of every livable community is a sense of place and uniqueness. The Historic Preservation Fund protects our most treasured sites,” Blumenauer said. “It’s time to provide greater support for important historic projects across the country, ensuring we can continue to preserve and honor our heritage for generations to come.”

In 1976, the fund first awarded funding to projects across the country. The fund draws from royalties from offshore drilling in U.S. waters, and it serves as the umbrella fund for several federal preservation efforts including the Save America’s Treasures program, which has supported several projects in the Miami Valley over the past 25 years.

In 1999, $13 million was awarded to 22 projects, including: The 1905 Wright Flyer III, and the Paul Laurence Dunbar House and Barn, as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

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