Question: What were the hitching posts and stairs that lead to the street on Warm Springs and Walnut St. used for? There is also one on Jefferson and 4th? When were they put there? How long have they been there? Who owns them?
Answer: The steps are coach steps, to let a passenger climb easily into a coach rather than hoist themselves up. As evidenced by their locations, these were primarily for the well-to-do who could afford their own coaches or private coach service to their homes and businesses. They date to the late nineteenth century– the one on Warm Springs is probably 1880s-1890s, the one on Jefferson the same or possibly earlier.
There’s another one of those on Harrison Blvd., too, and a salvaged one in C.W. Moore park.
As to ownership– those frontage strips are technically county property as part of the right-of-way, but structures on them probably fall into a gray area. The owners of the properties fronting the strips are responsible for their upkeep and maintenance. These posts might be analogous to trees– you can buy and plant your own trees on the strips, but you do have to get county approval (and the City Forester’s, too). The trees are sort of “yours,” but you can’t take them with you when you move, and the County and City can trim and remove them if deemed necessary. Those posts and steps are likely part of the property resting on the public right-of-way and are not completely “owned” by property owner or county. However, since Warm Springs is a historic district, I doubt that anyone would be allowed by the Preservation Commission to remove them.
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