May is Historic Preservation Month, and there’s a scavenger hunt starting today in downtown Johnson City rife with history.
City Planner Jessica Harmon said the city has organized the hunt to get people “downtown, get people looking at what we have, noticing that we still have historic importance downtown. The buildings have changed over time, however, if you look you can still see the original downtown.”
Many downtown buildings date back to when Johnson City was formed in the mid-1800s.
Johnson City was named after Henry Johnson, the first mayor of the city. He was instrumental in establishing many of the city’s first buildings and businesses — including a post office, lodging for travelers and the first railroad depot for passengers and freight.
The area later became a major railroad junction, which led to major development for Johnson City.
The theme for Historic Preservation Month is “See! Save! Celebrate!”
“We’d just like to get people out, try to make it a family thing and get people downtown,” Harmon said.
The scavenger hunt consists of partial photos of 15 downtown buildings. Participants have to find the building using the feature in the photo and record it on the brochure, which is available in the planning department at City Hall and the Johnson City Public Library.
Those entries can be turned in at City Hall and there will be a drawing for prizes, Harmon said.
The prizes are two free passes to Hands On! Regional Museum and two free meals from the Buffalo Street Downtown Deli.
“Each one of these buildings fall within our historic district, which has design guidelines which says what (owners) can and can’t do on the exterior of the building,” Harmon said. That information, as well as information on the scavenger hunt, is available on the city’s website at www.johnsoncity.org.
“We encourage people to get out, walk around, stop in the businesses and see what it’s all about. There’s a lot happening in downtown right now,” she said.
Harmon also encouraged residents to attend Historic Zoning Commission meetings to learn more about the various historic areas of the city. The commission meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the conference room at City Hall.