Historic Preservation Plan
Read the City’s Historic Preservation Plan
Updating the Historic Preservation Plan
In 2012, the City of Topeka hired Heritage Strategies, LLC consultants, Peter Benton and Elizabeth Watson to assist in rewriting Topeka’s Historic Preservation Plan. During that year the Consultants met with City staff, business leaders, and the public on a regular basis, culminating with a presentation to the Topeka City Council in December 16, 2013. The Governing Body adopted the Plan on January 7, 2014.
Historic Preservation Plan FAQs
The historic preservation plan identified 5 areas of primary activity as priorities for action to achieve the goals identified in the plan. These priorities include:
- Encourage and facilitate private sector investment in downtown historic buildings to help make the city’s Kansas Avenue project a success;
- Complete historic resource inventories or surveys of the entire city to fully understand the nature, scope, extent, and condition of Topeka’s historic assets;
- Use a coordinated city-wide heritage tourism initiative to increase awareness of Topeka’s historic character an contribute to the city’s economic vitality;
- Focus upon neighborhood preservation as central to Topeka’s outstanding quality of life; and
- Incorporate historic preservation principles and values into the wide range of programs and initiatives undertaken by City agencies.
The Topeka Historic Preservation Plan was developed around the attainment of 6 principle goals. These goals are:
- Make historic preservation central to Topeka’s quality of life;
- Use the private sector and self-interest as engines for historic preservation and revitalization;
- Heighten public appreciation of Topeka’s heritage through storytelling and other means;
- Make heritage development a core strategy in Topeka’s economic development plan;
- Fully integrate historic preservation into city programs and processes; and
- Make full use of the programs available for community revitalization and enhancement.
The Topeka Landmarks Commission was created to advise the City Council on matters concerning historic preservation within the City of Topeka, and to coordinate “public and private historic preservation activities.” It is the purpose of the Landmarks Commission to identify, assess and monitor the wide range of historic assets throughout the city, and identify potential threats to those properties, with the goal to seek solutions that preserve the city’s history for future generations.
Heritage tourism contributes to the city’s overall economic vitality, and provides residents and visitors with a sense of understanding of the city that is based on Topeka’s rich and unique history. Topeka’s historical attractions draw visitors, and give those coming for other reasons an enhanced experience while they are here. Heritage tourism enhances Topeka’s overall quality of life, heightens public appreciation for Topeka’s heritage, and strengthens the City’s overall economic development efforts by encouraging visitors to stay longer, and learn more about the aspects of Topeka’s past that makes us who we are today.
“Special places” are identified in the 2014 Historic Preservation Plan as the wealth of character embodied by all of Topeka’s many unique neighborhoods. Among these special places is Downtown Topeka, which is everyone’s neighborhood. All of Topeka’s residential neighborhoods have a clear structure that feature well-built homes, streetscapes with lawns, and mature trees and parks. The Preservation Plan addresses their continued treatment by merging the focus and importance of preserving these assets within the framework of all City departments, City programs, and other elements of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
Historic preservation efforts are primarily grass-roots initiatives, assisted with a broad range of local, state, and federal-level programs. The Federal Government has many established historic preservation programs, many with funding opportunities that are passed on to local initiatives through State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) around the country. Many local communities have been designated as Certified Local Government, a recognition by the SHPOs that those communities are capable of responsibly applying State and Federal preservation laws to projects affecting listed historic properties within their communities. In this sense, historic preservation is practiced as a four-level partnership with all four levels (individual initiatives, local government programming, and state and federal guidance and funding) actively participating in the protection and preservation of our nation’s history, an the collective histories of every community within the country. The Appendices within the Historic Preservation Plan is a description of programs and preservation opportunities available at every level.