TEMPLE TERRACE — Dwight James Baum, who created John Ringling's lavish Ca' d'Zan palace in Sarasota, also designed dozens of Mediterranean Revival-style homes in Temple Terrace, the largest collection of the famed architect's work in the Southeast.
To take advantage of the town's architectural history, the City Council has invited citizens, especially owners of historic homes, to a workshop July 25 to discuss joining the national Certified Local Government Program, which would create a clear path for owners who want to get their homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Temple Terrace is the only Florida city built in the 1920s that is not designated a CLG, or member of the program, said council member Grant Rimbey. Rimbey is an avid proponent of the program, a joint initiative of the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Offices in each state.
"One of the big issues for the city of being a CLG, it allows the city to be eligible for federal grants,'' he said.
Rimbey said the proposed program would be voluntary, allowing individual owners of historic property to take part or not.
The city's community development office sent letters to 95 people. They went to owners of two types of homes: the Mediterranean Revival-style homes of the 1920s, with arched windows and barrel tile roofs; and mid-century modern homes of the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by large overhangs and lots of glass, an effort to bring the outside inside, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's main themes.
Celebrated Tampa architect M. Leo Elliott also created early homes in Temple Terrace. Elliott designed Tampa's old city hall and Centro Asturiano in Ybor City, as well as Florida College's Sutton Hall, which served as the first Temple Terrace Country Club.
"I think what the city is looking to do is gauge historic homeowners' feelings, what they think about this whole idea, gauge everybody's interest and the participation the city might expect,'' said Tim Lancaster, president of the Temple Terrace Preservation Society.
Lancaster, in a follow-up letter to homeowners, noted that once homes are listed on the national register and become part of the CLG, they could be eligible for a federal historic preservation tax incentive program.
"The City of Temple Terrace may also create an Historic Ad Valorem Tax Exemption program, as other local governments have done, such as Tampa,'' he wrote. "Tampa's program establishes a procedure for an owner of residential or commercial historic properties, after preserving, restoring and rehabilitating their properties to National Register standards, to apply for a tax exemption of the portion of ad valorem taxes levied by the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County for a period of up to 10 years.''
One of the first steps would be for the city to pass an ordinance, which Lancaster said could be as tight or loose as the city would like to make it. The ordinance would create a board to oversee the program.
Philip Morgan can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3435.