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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Historic home’s future weighed

— Zephyrhills City Council members discussed taking the historic Jeffries House off the National Registry of Historic Places during an on-site workshop Monday evening at the historic home of Zephyrhills founder Capt. H.B. Jeffries.

The workshop gave council members a first-hand look at the home. “I guess we’re here because we’re going to try to look over the house and see what suggestions we have on what we want to do with the house,” said City Council President Charlie Proctor. “It’s ours now so now we need to make some decisions.”

Council members took individual tours of the home, 38533 Fifth Ave., and the “carriage house” which was built later and is behind the home.

Most council members were concerned about the cost associated with bringing the house back to a safe and useful condition.

“The first thing we’re going to have to do is decide how much money we’re going to put into this,” said Councilman Alan Knight.

The front porch is unsafe, Proctor said.

Council members also agreed that the fence out front should be repaired and the yard landscaped to make the home look better as a city property.

Estimates to restore the home have run from $16,000 to $27,000 provided by architect John R. Link of Kissimmee to $23,000 to $41,000 from Bobby Hilton Construction Co. of Zephyrhills. Taking the home off the national registry could allow the city to have greater leeway in what it can do with the home and how it may be repaired.

Homes on the historic registry may only be restored externally in a manner that is historically accurate and with the same kind of materials originally used, said city Director of Development Todd Vande Berg. “We could take it off the list and still do the right thing and we’re not going to have that oversight as we have now,” Vande Berg said.

Interim City Manager Steve Spina said he would have a report available to the council to help them make decisions about the registry and safety issues.

Proctor suggested the carriage house could be sold to help recoup funds spent on the Jeffries House.

The city purchased the Jeffries House in April for $111,000 after former Mayor Danny Burgess championed efforts for the city to purchase the property.

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