Some in Hillrise Park/Gump Addition concerned about historic recognition proposal

An historic Johnson City neighborhood is up for consideration for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Johnson City’s Hillrise Park/Gump Addition includes more than 120 unique home, some of them decades old.

The process for the potential recognized historic site began with the Tennessee Historical Commission prior to the arrival of the current historic preservation planner, Matt Manly.

Some in favor of the historic district proposal want to preserve the history of the area, but others said they are concerned rules with that recognition will result in strict changes.

“I see the development of the neighborhood through the variety of architectual styles as showing the tracts of time,” said Lucy Gump, a homeowner in Hillrise Park.

With plans dating back as early as 1927 and designed by landscape architect, E.S. Drapper of Charlotte, North Carolina, Gump would like to see the area recognized as a historic district. 

“I think as we have a sense of identity,” she said, “we have more pride and just enjoy where we live more.”

Gump said she would also would like to see the history recorded and perserved for younger families moving into the area.

“That is my goal,” she said. “I have no further agenda.”

When Gail Adkins received a letter from Johnson City about nominating the neighborhood to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it came as a shock.

“I’m very concerned because I do not want to live in a historical district,” she said, “there are too many restrictions.”

In the letter, the city of Johnson City said it has received a grant from the Tennessee Historical Commission to prepare for the nomination, which was another concern for Gail.

“I do know that there are expectations and you have to have measureable progress,” she said, “which leads me to believe the intial request for historical registration is not the end of it.”

We took her concerns to city leaders who said there will not be any restrictions placed on homeowners if the Hillrise Park/Gump Addition is recognized as an historic place on the National Register. 

“They’re not coming in, identifying changes that are required,” said Preston Mitchell, city of Johnson City Director of Development Services. “What they are doing is basically taking a snapshot of what’s there today.”

Mitchell also said restrictions in the Hillrise Park/Gump Addition will only happen if a local historic district were pursued.

He said that is not under proposal at this time. 

A meeting will take place next month at Watauga Avenue Presbyterian Church in Johnson City to help answer questions about a proposed historic district nomination for the Hillrise Park/Gump Addition.

It will take place June 10 at 5:30 p.m.

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