Hyattsville's historic district could soon be expanded to include areas of West Hyattsville built during the post-World War II housing boom. Such an expansion would make hundreds of households eligible for historic house rehabilitation tax credits.
The expansion is contingent upon the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation receiving grant funding from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to finance a survey of the proposed expansion area to define the boundaries of the historic district west of Queens Chapel Road.
Stuart Eisenberg, executive director of the Hyattsville CDC, hopes that the expansion of the historic district could shed light on the stories of the few remaining residents who bought their homes when they were brand new in the years following World War II.
"Those suburban subdivisions are ripe for inclusion," said Eisenberg. "We're losing the World War II generation and those homes were built under GI bill financing for so many returning veterans. That whole suburban design captures a snapshot of the American mentality at a certain part of American history."
Eisenberg said that being able to speak to people who were alive when the area was developed could provide valuable insight into our somewhat recent history.
"We can't talk to the Victorians," said Eisenberg. "But we might be able to talk to the returning vets of World War II."
The last time the historic district was expanded was in 2004.
The idea of a suburban style subdivision being designated a historic district might sound a bit odd in a town with a rich stock of late 19th century architecture, but many of the homes are in their 60s. The age of the homes alone makes them candidates for inclusion into a historic district.
"The homes need an investment to be maintained," said Eisenberg, explaining the necessity of the historic house rehabilitation tax credits. "It also provides a lot of pride to a community to be recognized as a historic district."
Last night, the Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a measure to give its support to the Hyattsville CDC's proposal to the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. Eisenberg said that it would be at least two or three months before he hears back from the MHAA. If approved, it would likely be at least September 2012 before the survey work necessary to expand the historic district could begin.