Local sites to be considered for historic register

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Three areas of Shelby County are one step closer to the National Register of Historic Places.

According to the Alabama Historical Commission, the state&8217;s National Register Review Board approved the nominations and they have been forwarded to Washington D.C. for final consideration.

The three sites are the Calera Historic District, the Old Rock House near Harpersville and the Helena Historic District.

According to the Historical Commission, Calera&8217;s Historic District consists of commercial structures that depict the community&8217;s evolution from an early industrial town to its growth as a transportation center.

The structures &8220;reflect the variety of opportunities available all within a two-block area.&8221;

The commission states that Calera traces its history to the development of the Alabama and Tennessee River Railroad, an antebellum line that aimed to link river ports at Selma with existing rail lines to Chattanooga, Tenn., and the northeast.

The Helena Historic District is significant, according to the commission, for &8220;its rich diversity of types and styles of small-town Alabama architecture from the 1880s until 1953.&8221;

The commission also points to the district&8217;s commercial significance in documenting Helena&8217;s commercial and industrial development.

&8220;The town&8217;s mining economy combined with the opportunities afforded by the railroad helped it emerge as an important trade and commercial hub for Shelby County,&8221; according to the commission.

The Old Rock House near Harpersville is also known as the Condon-Cohill-Norris-Eastis-Newman House.

The commission states that the house is a &8220;rare and intact example of an early stone dwelling in Alabama.&8221;

Architectural historian Robert Gamble said the house could be the state&8217;s sole surviving example of its building type as well as being the &8220;oldest rock structure of its kind between West Point, Ga., and Fredericksburg, Texas.&8221;