- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Brad King’s interest in historic preservation goes way back.

Recently named Muncie’s new historic preservation officer, King was already involved in efforts to identify and save local history well before being named to the unpaid appointed city office.

King moved to Muncie in 1996 to study anthropology at Ball State University, with a specific focus in archaeology. He then used that background working for a company that studied sites such as where highways or bridges were being built. (He now works for the Muncie Sanitary District doing survey work.)

His first real foray into historic preservation activism came in 2008, when the Queen Anne house at the corner of Adams and Council streets, known variously as the Kitselman Rector House or the Vandercook House, was slated to be demolished. King said he was aware that the federal funds could not be used to demolish registered historic structures, so he began advocating for the century-old house to be saved.

Eventually he began observing historic preservation commission meetings, joined The Star Press editorial board and began writing a column for the newspaper. When he and his wife decided they wanted to remain in Muncie long-term, they bought a house in the historic Old West End neighborhood and became active in revitalizing the neighborhood association, for which King is now president.

Mayor Dennis Tyler’s office announced King’s appointment as historic preservation office in late March, replacing longtime officer Bill Morgan, who left the volunteer position to become a zoning/structural inspector in the building commissioner’s office, according to a release.

King told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1ijL9q7 ) he was interested in the historic preservation officer’s role as a way to further his advocacy efforts for local history - and hopefully to generate “enough positive interest that people will do it on their own.”

“Historic preservation can get a bad rep,” King said, noting that people often associate historic preservation standards with limitations. Federal standards are generally the baseline; when a local historical district is designated, more specific rules are generally set for that particular district. King said part of his role is to help make people aware of those regulations and how they can help to preserve the character and appeal of the area. “Historic preservation creates a place,” he said.

As he settles into his new role as historic preservation officer - one that involves being administrator for the historic preservation board and an enforcer of historic preservation code as well as such additional tasks as serving on the unsafe building commission and answering people’s questions about historic properties - King already has some specific goals in mind:

. Get Shaffer Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church added to the Register of Historic Places. He acknowledged that doing so would be difficult, but said he particularly wanted to include sites with particular significance to local African-American history - in Shaffer Chapel’s case, as the site where the victims of the 1930 lynching in Marion were embalmed.

. See more areas not currently officially listed as historic districts get that designation, such as areas in a downtown commercial district and Industry Neighborhood. Citing downtown in particular, and recent facade grants for buildings in the city’s heart, King said he thought downtown Muncie could benefit economically from having a specific historic downtown business district designated with its own standards.

. Make sure Muncie uses the resources it has at hand, notably Ball State University and its architecture and archaeology programs.

. See progress on the Kitselman Rector Queen Anne house, the structure that really got him started on a path to the post he holds now. Noting that he appreciates the work the current owner is putting into restoring the historic home, King said, “I would like to see that on the road to preservation.”


Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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