Historic district benefits to be seen again

SEVERAL MILL STREET BUILDINGS will be reaping the benefits of the designation two years ago of Plymouth’s downtown as an historic district.

The buildings at 404 and 410 E. Mill St. will get interior facelifts and upgrades soon, thanks in part to state and federal tax credits available because they are part of the designated historic districts.

It is a positive outcome from the tragic fatal fire last November that destroyed the historic building at 408 E. Mill St. that was sandwiched between 404 and 410 E. Mill St.

More than 130 firefighters from 19 area departments fought valiantly and heroically for hours to successfully get that fire under control and save the two adjacent buildings on either side which shared walls with the burning building.

Unfortunately, they were not able to save the one life lost in the blaze, but they did save many others while also limiting the scope of the fire and saving the neighboring buildings.

The building that was lost, at 408 E. Mill St., was constructed in 1910 by H.G. Genske as the Crystal Theater. With a stage and opera-style seats on the first floor and offices on the second, the building hosted vaudeville acts, lectures and such in its early years.

Later, in the 1940s, it was converted to a movie theater and renamed the Majestic Theater – one of two movie houses located on Mill Street. When the movies stopped playing at the Majestic, the building was converted into apartments on both floors.

Unfortunately, indications are that the cost of rebuilding or replacing 408 E. Mill St. will prove to be too expensive to make it economically feasible as either a commercial or commercial/residential building, so it seems likely there will be an empty lot in that block of downtown when all is said and done.

But with the help of the tax credits made available when downtown was designated a historic district, that empty lot will only be one 25-foot building wide, instead of the two or three wide it might possibly have been.

Without the aid of the historic district tax credits, it may be hard to say whether it would have been economically feasible to repair and restore the fire damage in the two buildings on either side of 408 E. Mill St. But it is certain that the tax credits will make that work easier to accomplish and will help finance upgrades to both buildings as part of that work.

That was one of the goals of the historic designation effort, to make maintaining and upgrading downtown’s character and vitality easier and more affordable.

There is already one bright example of that in the Plymouth Cheese Counter and Dairy Heritage Center at 133 E. Mill St., which opened last fall and celebrated its ribbon-cutting/grand opening last week. That project, which adds another attraction to draw visitors downtown, would likely not have been possible without the aid of the historic district tax credits.

The new looks at 404 and 410 E. Mill St. should be two more examples of the benefits of the historic district, helping to make downtown Plymouth an even better place to live as well as visit.

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