PUBLIC NOTICERegarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review of New Collections Facility for Ramsey County Historical SocietyThe National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has offered Ramsey County Historical Society, Inc., in St. Paul, Minnesota, a Challenge Infrastructure and Capacity Building grant (CHA-276804) to construct a new collections’ storage building at the RCHS’s administrative site.NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.  This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, 54 U.S.C. 306108.  NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties.  If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects.  Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.

The project involves the construction of a collections’ storage building on RCHS’s property at 2129 Larpenteur Avenue West, Falcon Heights, MN 55113, which is just west of the The Heman and Jane DeBow Gibbs Farm (Gibbs Farm). The Gibbs Farm was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 (NHRP# 75001009) for its association with “agriculture,” “settlement,” and “immigration.The collection building will be a single story, 3,900 SF structure with a rectangular footprint and massing and will be clad with fiber-reinforced cementitious panels and in a vertical board and batten pattern with clear sealed wood battens. The building will not have windows. The project site is located directly to the west of the Gibbs Farm, a National Register of Historic Places listed and eligible historic site. The project site is largely obscured from the public right of way and the Gibbs Farm site by vegetation and existing buildings. The proposed collections building will be constructed to the west of the Red Barn on the adjacent non-historic site. A non-historic pool house and garage will be demolished to accommodate the access path to the collections building. Site work includes the construction of a new decomposed granite sidewalk that will connect the existing bituminous driveway at the administrative site office building with the collections building sidewalk that extends along the length of the south façade of the new building to and the south entrance of the Red Barn. To accommodate the grade change between the collections building and Red Barn and to facilitate travel between the Gibbs Farm and the collections building, two sets of stone steps will be constructed. Gray trap rock will be placed along the west, north, and east sides of the new collections building and will be contained by a granite edger. New lines for water and sanitary sewer will be provided at the south side of the building. In addition, the collections building will connect to the existing sanitary sewer line at the Red Barn. Several existing trees near the north and west sides of the proposed building will be protected.On March 20, 2023, Sarah J. Beimers, Environmental Review Program Manager, with the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, provided a finding of No Adverse Effect. NEH also consulted with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Prairie Island Indian Community, Lower Sioux Indian Community, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.  Mr. Leonard Wabasha, Director of Cultural Resources, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, concurred with the assessment, but required that a Unanticipated Discovery Plan be in place should any inadvertent discovery occur.

After reviewing Section 106 documentation and SHPO finding, NEH issues a determination of No Adverse Effect, with the requirement that an Unanticipated Discovery Plan be established and provided to NEH prior to initiating work on the site.As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to FPO@neh.govThe deadline for submitting comments is September 6, 2023.