By Dan Harkins
ORANGE CITY - The city's seen-better-days historic district has more than 200 structures that the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation considers some of the state's most endangered and overlooked.
The 25 banners erected in 2002 to identify that district aren't looking all that great either.
That's why one of the first tasks of the city's newly reformed Historic Preservation Committee was to give the nod to new maroon banners with black brackets.
The cost: about $4,200.
"It's really an area we're trying to get cleaned up and promoted," said Alison Stettner, the city's development services director, who led the new five-member board through its new responsibilities recently.
Leaving four banners as spares, they chose two key gateways to concentrate 26 banners - two at each major intersection along Graves and Holly avenues. They'll also be posted sporadically along the busy Volusia Avenue.
One of the most important jobs for the group, who chose architect Doug Mullins as its chairman and Carol Parmelee as vice chairman, will be to bring needed attention to redevelopment efforts in the district.
"It's so you feel a sense of arrival," Mr. Mullins said. "I'm really excited to see what we can contribute."
The group will also evaluate any new development in the district to ensure historic integrity. But that's not all.
"This list (of historic structures) needs to be updated," Ms. Stettner told them. "We know for a fact that some of these structures are not even there any more."
It's a task that committee members seemed honored to address.
"I'm here because I want to see the historic homes here maintained," Mr. Mullins said, "and I'd like to identify that historic district area. To me, that's very important because a lot of people don't know where that is."
Vice Chair Parmelee, who's revamped a few century-old homes on Oak Avenue since the 1990s, said architecture and archeology both are her passions.
One of her favorite pastimes is to take old postcards and find what remains of their pictures.
Recently, she came across a postcard depicting a grand home on East Lansdowne Avenue that just 10 years ago was still kept in mint condition.
"When I just went to take a picture of it, you couldn't even see it" from the vegetation engulfing it, she said. "It makes you sad because you wish that a lot of these could have been preserved a long time ago."