Frisco completes historical property survey, will consider new preservation programs

The Blacksmith Shop at 502 Main St. in Frisco is pictured Jan. 18. The building, which was built in the 1920s, was identified by a recent historical property survey as an important structure that warrants local preservation efforts.
Photo by Sawyer D’Argonne /

Frisco officials got a first look at a recently completed survey of the town’s historical properties, a project that provides new insight into how buildings in the area can help to contextualize Frisco’s past and present.

Last year, Frisco began the project to gather information on historical properties in town, a widespread effort to collect details, stories, photographs and more on some of the structures most significant to showing the town’s development since the late 1800s. While officials say the study maintains intrinsic value on its own, it also can be used in the future to help Frisco develop new programs related to historic preservation and provide community members with a fresh look into how and why the town evolved the way it did.

“We undertook the project to understand the broader story of Frisco’s history, to kind of look around and see what buildings are left that represent that history and document those buildings in detail,” said Suzannah Reid, an architect specializing in historical preservation who led the effort. “… The report kind of sets the tone of the broader trends of what’s going on in Frisco at what time periods, and it’s easier to look around and see how the buildings that we see around town related to those trends.”

Reid presented the final survey results to Frisco Town Council members during a work session discussion last week. The report isn’t a comprehensive list of every historic property in town — nor does it have any regulatory effect — but it does provide an in-depth look at 26 publicly and privately owned structures, detailing architectural designs, construction history and materials, location changes, historical uses, cultural significance, integrity and more.

The surveyed properties were built between the 1880s and the 1950s, and Reid said changes in development during those years were readily apparent, from simple gable-front houses in the 1800s, to larger and more elaborate structures in the early 1900s, to more reclaimed materials used in quieter times in the town’s history like the 1930s.

“You can kind of begin to see a pattern emerging of what’s remaining around town that was sort of typical — … something that defines a period in time and how it defines that period in time,” Reid said.

The report also breaks the 26 buildings into groups based on integrity, or how much they’ve been altered since their construction, and provides recommendations for preservation. A total of six buildings were found to “clearly warrant local preservation,” according to the report, including some more well-known properties like the Excelsior Mine Office built in 1898 and the “Yellow House” at 420 Galena St., which Reid called the “quintessential 1880s residential house in Frisco.”

Further down the list, the report notes other buildings that have had only minor alterations and some that have been substantially altered but still have historic value. The survey also lists a few structures that have retained little or no integrity and that could create a “false sense of history” due to heavy alterations.

With the survey completed, officials now will shift the conversation toward what to do with the new information. The town will submit the survey report to the State Historical Fund, which provided the bulk of funding for the project, after which more conversations are expected to begin on the potential development of new preservation programs.

Changes also could be made to the town’s land use code, which offers incentives to encourage voluntary preservation of historic properties through regulations laid out in the Historic Overlay zoning designation.

“It’s great to see a lot of these buildings identified and in one place,” council member Andy Held said. “… I think it’s important for the character of the town that we keep some of the look that we started with.”

“This was really nice to see Frisco’s history,” council member Andrew Aerenson said. “It’s a job well done. I hope we take this somewhere, even if it’s creating placards of before and after scenes … as a historical reference.”


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