Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Island's Piece of History in Play; the Resident Says She Wants the Grange to Stay in Her Family

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Island's Piece of History in Play; the Resident Says She Wants the Grange to Stay in Her Family

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

CUMBERLAND ISLAND - A year from now, the first retained rights agreements that helped establish Cumberland Island as a national seashore in 1972 expire and the residents living on five tracts will have to move.

One resident, however, believes her property known as The Grange, located in the Dungeness Historic District, has a unique characteristic that would allow the house to remain occupied after her family's agreement expires in December 2010.

Margaret Graves said the home her family has lived in part-time for nearly four decades is on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service has granted similar historic leases at 48 different national parks, she said.

In return for a historic lease, Graves said she would continue to maintain the house at her family's expense and even add improvements such as a fire suppression system if the Park Service requires it.

Some of the more than 100 historic structures on the island have collapsed or are in a state of disrepair because of limited federal funding for the island, she said.

"We've been there since the 1970s," Graves said. "I definitely worry about it [the home] because I've watched buildings on the island they haven't had the money to maintain."

The Park Service has been criticized after historic structures such as a carriage house collapsed and Plum Orchard mansion fell into a state of disrepair.

Park Service officials said the problem was a lack of federal funding to maintain historic structures on the island.

But historic preservation funding has not been an issue in more than a decade.

No other properties where the agreements are set to expire are on the National Register and those residents will have to move, said Fred Boyles, the island's superintendent.

Property owners petitioned the federal government to create a national seashore to stop plans to develop the island four decades ago. …

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