Attorney fears Gallatin's heritage slipping away - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Attorney fears Gallatin's heritage slipping away

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In so many American cities and towns, history is slipping away one building at a time.

A structure on College Street built as a church parsonage in the 1880s is in danger of being demolished to make room for a parking lot.

"This little house and this block is just a jewel," said Gallatin attorney Donna Lucas.

Lucas is worried it's about to be lost forever.

Last week when workers cut down the rose bushes and the white picket fence, she started asking questions.

"The workers on site told me the funeral home owners had bought it and two of the historic buildings around the corner, and that he needed parking and it was going to be torn down," said Lucas.

Impossible, she thought. All three houses are part of Gallatin's historic neighborhood. There's a sign saying so in front of the two houses on Main Street. The area of downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places.

What might surprise you is that designation alone doesn't protect properties if owners want to knock them down.

"The National Register is honorary," said Lucas. "It's what you get so you can put a plaque on your house and have status."

The designation doesn't have any teeth unless a city takes extra steps, like designating a historic overlay.

The owners of the funeral home declined to talk on camera.

Shirley Anderson said the funeral home has "no plans to demolish it at this time." She said she was not aware the home was on the historic register.

If the funeral home comes to the codes and planning office and applies for a demolition permit, the city would issue one.

Katherine Shoch, Gallatin's interim zoning administrator, verified that.

"There were 88 buildings cited in 1995 and put on the National Register of Historic Places here in Gallatin and many of them have already disappeared," said Lucas.

One Gallatin council member, Julie Brackenberry, said she would be willing to introduce legislation to preserve Gallatin's historic buildings.

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