For the love of Sperryville, let’s preserve its history
Iappreciate the recent letter by Carolyn Brown Butler titled, “Not all of us want a new historic district.” I know firsthand Ms. Butler’s deep love for the Sperryville community and her extensive understanding of its rich history.
Ms. Butler noted errors in the 1982 application. The first goal of the proposed historic expansion is to correct past errors and capture our history before it is gone. Ms. Butler’s knowledge and that of other “Rappahannock pioneer family descendants” would be invaluable to this effort to ensure its accuracy. The information generated by this expansion will tell the story beyond the current district centered on Main Street. It will also extend research to include important events from the early 1900s to the 1960s. These events — such as the growth of the apple industry, establishment of the park, and advent of automotive travel — helped make our community what it is today.
The second goal for the proposed expansion is to encourage the preservation of historic buildings that contribute to Sperryville’s charm. The Sperryville Community Study (June 2021) notes that the number of underutilized or blighted former retail buildings in the community “give the impression of a community whose heyday is in the past.” The Study recommends expanding the boundaries of the Sperryville Historic District in order to preserve key historic properties. It proposes to do this by expanding the availability of historic tax incentives. These incentives, which are voluntary, encourage owners of historic buildings to restore them rather than destroy them.
While expanding the Historic District will help preserve our history, its impact on property owners is limited. It will not restrict the rights of any property owner to make changes to their buildings, limit their uses of buildings, or even prevent them from demolishing buildings. It will not diminish their ability to obtain property insurance. The current Sperryville Historic District has been in place since 1982. There have been no restrictions to property owners’ rights since it was established over 40 years ago. This proposed project is merely an update and expansion of that district. It is not a path to an architecture review board.
Preserving Sperryville’s history should unite our community. The Alliance appreciated the community discussion held on Dec. 13. We are hosting a second meeting on Monday, Jan. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sperryville Fire Department to further examine the proposed expansion effort. Please join us.