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Marking Johnson City history: Plaques available for Tree Streets residents

Tony Casey • Nov 8, 2015 at 3:51 PM

The Southside Neighborhood Organization, the group that lives in and oversees the Tree Streets neighborhood, is putting out a call to order, for those who would like to hang a piece of history from their residences.

In a Facebook post on the group’s page, it is offering an opportunity for those who live between University Parkway, West Walnut and Roan streets, to do a mass order of “Tree Streets” National Register of Historical Places plaques, which can be hung if that particular house falls within those historical guidelines.

It’s been nearly 10 years since the last order was put into place and the group’s officers have seen many new residents in the neighborhood who might want that designation on their house. According to National Register of Historical Places, which specifically logged the Tree Streets’ historic locations in 1996, “The Tree Streets Historic District contains the most intact collection of historic residential architecture in Johnson City. The boundaries are drawn to include the greatest number of historic resources in the area and to exclude large areas of altered or non-historic buildings.”

Kathy Serago, SNO’s treasurer, said the last order of plaques had each of the bronze markers priced at around $100, but she believes the cost has gone up approximately $30 since then.

“It’s nice to have,” Serago said. “It’s more of a sentimental thing.”

There’s a master list of houses that were deemed historical during the 1996 process and anyone within the neighborhood who is curious if their house fulfills those requirements can contact Serago or other SNO officers to find out if they make the historical cut.

With the holidays coming, and the housing market trending toward a recovery, as more people move into new houses, Serago said the plaques make a wonderful housing-warming gift.

Credit for the development of neighborhood is given to George L. Carter, who was an area businessman and builder of the Clinchfield Railroad in 1909. His influence didn’t stop with putting together neighborhoods in Johnson City. Sidewalks and Johnson City’s first federally-owned post office can be traced to donations from Carter, as well as a 120-acre plot that would turn into East Tennessee State University, which borders the Tree Streets on its west side.

The Tree Streets continued to benefit and develop well from Carter’s generosity, as the did the region as a whole, so this history, along with the rest of East Tennessee’s is important to the historic Tree Streets neighborhood’s officers.

Jeff Estes, SNO’s vice president, lives on West Maple Street and has had a plaque on his 1928 house for the last 20 years. It’s SNO’s priority, he said, to get as many people involved in their community as possible and getting residents proud of their houses and neighborhood is important.

Email Tony Casey at [email protected]. Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.

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