Winterset Adds Commercial District to National Register of Historic Places

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WINTERSET, Iowa --The town of Winterset is already known nationwide as the home of John Wayne's birthplace and the Bridges of Madison County. Now, the town is recognized for another reason.

The city was notified that the downtown commercial district has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, a national program that works to identify, evaluate and protect the nation's historic and archeological resources.

Numerous volunteers spent over 3,000 hours to survey 104 buildings in and around downtown Winterset. The process lasted over four years. In the end, 83 buildings were added to the National Register of Historic Places, which is administered by the National Park Service.

At the Madison County Mercantile, owner Shirley Roach loves to show visitors around the store. The building went up in 1889 as a clothing store. The original light switches are still in working order from the early 1900s.

"When this building came up for sale, I was afraid someone would buy it and tear out the tin ceiling. So I bought it and had to have something to do with it. So I went into business," Roach said.

Naming to the list will make building owners eligible for tax credits toward renovations.

"Once you are on the National Register, there are tax credits. Second stories can be rehabbed and put back into use," said Brenda Hollingsworth, of the Winterset Historic Preservation Committee.

The success with restored historic buildings is causing more interest in people having businesses or homes.

The list includes the Madison County Courthouse, which was already on the National Register.

The town will celebrate the historic designation on Jan. 29 at the Iowa Quilt Museum Building.