The passage of mothballing legislation in August of 2011 validated that a community can rally together and make positive change happen; again. Springfield is a survivor, deeply rooted with passionate preservationists who over the years have come together time and time again to save the houses. Each fight backed by different issues and people, but the end result, the same; a community tied together to preserve history for generations to come.
To date, six historic homes have achieved mothball status, having fully completed the requirements of their mothball Certificate of Appropriateness (COAs). Four more homes are “pending” during the COA process to also achieve mothball status, each still in their window of time to complete the work for the mothball certificate. All of these homes, many marred with city fines and condemnation, now have a new lease on life, each with owners who will over the course of the three-year mothball certificate, get the home closer to it’s certificate of occupancy.
There are multiple reasons why mothballing is beneficial for a community. Here are a few:
- Mothballing stops rolling fines, allowing the owner to rehab their home in a reasonable amount of time and not have to battle with code enforcement.
- Mothballing protects the home from vandals and the elements of weather.
- Mothballing “turns the frog into a prince.” As the certificate requires upkeep, maintenance, and work towards the Certificate of Occupancy (CO), it is a win-win for surrounding homes and the entire community. A neglected home is now a loved home and it looks a helluva lot better too.
- Mothballing encourages buyers to take a chance on a “scary” home thereby giving them a fair shot at rehab as the certificate provides time and not harassment to make it habitable.
Mothballing legislation provided hope and encouragement to owners who abandoned their homes. While that may sound silly, it is not. Backed by a neighborhood of passionate volunteers who care about their community, over a dozen homes where given away to PSOS and individuals so that they may be saved. Dancy Terrace, the bungalow court at Main and 9th Streets, which was saved time and time again by neighbors who rallied behind its preservation, now overwhelmingly rests in the hands of Springfield owners. 14 of the 24 bungalows are in “protective custody.”
In 2012, the community rallied around the Pearl Street house which prompted Councilmember Lumb to initiate rewriting legislation yet again to protect historic homes. A 4th home was revitalized through the Make it Happen Preservation Project last summer, and the community came together and in less than 24 hours, raising over $1,000 to stabilize a neighbor’s home and prevent it’s emergency demolition (Kenneth’s home on E. 9th) Springfield residents Pat and Alannah rehabbed a lovely rusticated block home on Walnut Court that succumbed to fire, it’s roof collapsing into the second floor. A generous donation and expertise from Joe and Gloria at Glory Homes Inc. saved that house yet again. The home is stabilized and working it’s way to it’s mothball certificate.
Margaret Mead’s words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” exudes Historic Springfield. Even folks who no longer reside in the hood, keep Springfield and it’s people close to their heart. Springfielder’s know it: we are Jacksonville’s best kept secret. Hats off to a remarkable community, let’s keep saving the houses!
By Nicole Lopez
Special thanks to Bill Killingsworth and the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission staff. For more information, visit: www.preservationsos.org