September 28, 2005
PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC HOMES
By: Joseph Holstead, Research Analyst
You asked (1) if any state or private agencies in Connecticut buy historic homes from individuals for preservation purposes and (2) for information about state or federal assistance for an individual interested in restoring and preserving an historic home.
The law allows the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to acquire (by gift, grant, bequest, devise, lease, purchase, or otherwise) historic structures or landmarks that it determines to be (1) of national or state historical importance and (2) important enough to the public interest to be held forever in good condition for visitation by the public. (The Connecticut Historical Commission became part of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism under PA 03-6, June 30 Special Session, and PA 04-205.) More information is available at the commission's website, http://www.cultureandtourism.org/history/incentives.html, or by calling (860) 566-3005.
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation (CTHP), a state-chartered nonprofit organization that operates in conjunction with the commission (under PA 03-6, June 30 Special Session), recommends that anyone interested in preserving an historic structure check their website for answers to commonly asked questions. For example, the website lists organizations that may be able to provide information or assistance on entities that would purchase a historic structure (e.g., the website provides the addresses for the Eastford Historical Society, P.O. Box 114, Eastford, CT 06242 or Windham Historical Society, P.O. Box 105, Willimantic, CT 06071). CTHP's telephone number is (203) 562-6312.
We have identified possible funding sources for historic preservation projects below. However, we found that most available funding is for historic preservation organizations or state and local governments.
Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit. This program authorizes up to $3 million per year in corporate business tax credits to businesses contributing funds for rehabilitating historic homes in specified areas. Individuals or nonprofit organizations must own the homes, which can have up to four units.
Individuals and nonprofit organizations must apply to the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to reserve tax credit vouchers. In doing so, they must submit plans for rehabilitating the homes for the commission's approval. The commission cannot issue the vouchers until an owner documents his actual costs and agrees to live in the home for five years.
The commission can issue the voucher to the historic home's owner or to a business he designates. The business must attach the voucher to its tax return to claim the credit (CGS § 10-416).
The commission's website lists Linda Spencer as the contact for this program at (860) 566-3005, ex. 317.
Historic Restoration Fund Grants. The law allows the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to award municipalities and non-profit organizations grants of up to 50% of the nonfederal share of the total cost of acquiring, relocating, preserving, and restoring historic assets. An historic asset is a building, structure, object, or site that is significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, or culture (CGS § 10-410 and 411).
Specifically, properties on the State Register of Historic Places, which are owned and operated by a municipality or non-profit organization, are eligible for these matching grants. The grants are the only source in
Connecticut for funding bricks-and-mortar restoration, according to the commission. (We have attached information about placing a structure on the register.)
An individual interested in selling his historic home could contact officials in his town to determine if there is interest in purchasing an historic structure for preservation purposes in conjunction with this type of grant, for example.
Acquisition of Historic Structures and Landmarks. By law, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism may acquire (by gift, grant, bequest, devise, lease, purchase, or otherwise) historic structures or landmarks that it determines to be of national or state historical importance and to be important enough to the public interest to be held forever in good condition for visitation by the public. The commission may (1) restore, (2) maintain and operate, or (3) lease these structures or landmarks to private organizations or municipalities to restore, maintain, and operate (CGS § 10-413).
An Act Concerning Farmland Preservation, Land Protection, Affordable Housing, and Historic Preservation, PA 05-228. This act creates a mechanism to fund historic preservation (as well as affordable housing development and farmland and open space preservation). It requires town clerks to collect an additional $30 fee for each document they record in the town's land records, except those recorded for a municipal or state employee as part of his official duties. The state receives $26 of each recorded document fee and the towns keep $4. The act specifies how the town may spend the funds.
The act requires the state's portion of the funds to be distributed quarterly and divides them equally among four agencies, including the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The commission must allocate (1) $200,000 annually to supplement the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation's technical assistance and preservation programs and (2) the remainder to supplement the state's historic preservation programs.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency, notes that individuals cannot apply directly for most federal historic preservation funding programs. Funding generally goes to state, tribal, or local governments and non-profit organizations.
However, the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 allows owners or qualified lessees of certified historic income-producing, residential, commercial, or industrial properties to choose a 20% investment tax credit on a certified rehabilitation project. (However, the properties must be income producing.) The process involves review and comment by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism's History Division's State Historic Preservation Office and certification by the National Park Service, according to the commission's website.
(The State Historic Preservation Office assists property owners in the identification of historic structures and provides technical advice with respect to appropriate rehabilitation treatments, according to the website.)
Nonprofits and Foundations
The organizations we identified that provide funding for restoration projects generally offer it to non-profit historic preservation organizations and state or local governments. However, there are some possibilities for individuals.
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. CTHP has offered grants and loans in the past for certain historic preservation projects and will receive additional funding under the provisions of PA 05-228 (see above) for its programs. Those interested in preserving a structure may contact CTHP at (203) 562-6312 or visit its website for more information on restoration at http://www.cttrust.org/index.cgi/105.
Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation. The fund provides nonprofit organizations and public agencies grants (from $2,500 to $10,000) for preservation projects or those that recapture an authentic sense of place. However, individuals and for-profit businesses may apply if the project involves a National Historic Landmark, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's (NTHP) website: http://www.nationaltrust.org/help/grants.html.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors. This fund provides nonprofit organizations and public agencies grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to assist in the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of historic interiors. Again, individuals and for-profit businesses may apply if the project involves a National Historic Landmark, according to the NTHP website.