Survey explores Superior historic architecture
Superior's newly appointed and re-created Historic Preservation Committee met for the first time to learn about a survey underway in Superior to evaluated the city's historical resources.
"This project came about in a kind of an odd way," said Joe DeRose of the State Historic Preservation Office. "My office is largely federally funded."
While funding is often uncertain, DeRose said the office found itself with a lot of funding that needed to be spent in a hurry, and decided to conduct surveys of historic resources in communities that hadn't had an intensive survey in awhile.
The last intensive survey of historic properties in Superior was conducted in 1983 by historian Paul Lusignan.
DeRose said at the time, a lot of surveys focused on high-style architecture, rather than the kinds of architecture that reflects the nature of the community. The survey underway in Superior will look at commercial buildings, housing, churches, public and educational buildings, industrial complexes, garages, carriage houses, bridges and other structures above ground that were built 40 or more years ago — 50 years is considered historic.
"It's not a survey of just pretty architecture in town," DeRose said. He said all of those features are important to a community's history.
"Superior was surveyed back in 1983, and for its time, it was an excellent survey," DeRose said. "It was very well-researched, very meticulous ... That survey was very good, but it stopped at 1933 or so. "
At that time the survey was done, DeRose said surveyors were sticklers for the 50-year benchmark, and properties built in 1934 or later wouldn't have been considered for the survey.
He said that means it excluded architecture and features of Superior during World War II and beyond.
The 40-year benchmark is being used so the survey is not obsolete the day it's published, DeRose said.
Field work for the survey is about 75 percent complete, with the surveyor, Kelly Nowak, driving down street after street and taking photographs of old buildings that reflect historic integrity. She said when that's complete, the research begins to tell the stories of the city's historic buildings with the full project expected to be complete by late summer.
DeRose said the Historical Society already has information about 670 buildings in Superior already, and about 150,000 statewide, which is available online. Just search for "about AHI" to find the architectural history archive at wisconsinhistory.org
Local historian Teddie Meronek, a member of the city's current and previous Historic Preservation Committee, said the online resource is wonderful.
The Historic Preservation Committee was eliminated in 2007, not long after the Palace Theater was demolished by the city, with the duties placed under the auspices of the Plan Commission in 2007.
Last year, the Superior City Council adopted an ordinance to re-create a Historical Preservation Committee. In October, Architect Tim Meyer, Plan Commissioner Brian Finstad, residents Matt Osterlund and Tom Wondolkowsi, and Meronek were appointed to the committee.