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PRESERVATION ADVICE
Section I: Do You Own a Home that May be Historic?
Section II: Funding Assistance for Historic Preservation

Do You Own a Home that May be Historic?

Thousands of buildings throughout the greater Cleveland area may have some historic interest.  Many communities in this region have ordinances that recognize this by designating properties or districts as historic.  This generally means that the property is at least a certain age and also has some significance.  This significance can take several forms:
  • First, the property may have importance as the location of a particular event or series of events that is relevant to the history of the locality or region.

  • Second, the property may be associated with an individual of historic importance.

  • Third, the property is a good representation of a particular style or type of American architecture. This is the most common category of significance.

  • Fourth, the property is important for its potential to yield information on our history or prehistory.  Usually this latter category consist of archaeological sites.

The National Register is the nation’s list of properties worthy of preservation.  Properties must be approved for the National Register by boards in each state appointed by their governor to consider nominations.  For consideration, a property needs to be well documented, both in its current and original appearance and in its history and significance.

The National Register recognizes properties that may be of local, statewide or national significance.  To find out if your building is already listed on the National Register or for more information, contact the Ohio Historic Preservation Office at their web site, http://www.ohiohistory.org/resources/histpres.

Local histories, old atlases and plat books, U. S. census forms, property records, past tax documents, old city directories and interviews are all ways of gaining information on your property.  For more information about how to conduct a survey or to find additional information about your property, please contact us or your local preservation commission or the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

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Funding Assistance for Historic Preservation

Federal funding for historic preservation is limited.  There has been a grants program for privately owned properties, but this program has gone unfunded for some time.  It has been used to provide seed money for worthwhile preservation projects.  

The Johnson House - Oberlin, OhioFor example, a federal grant was made years ago through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to fund an exterior restoration of Johnson House at Oberlin College (click image to enlarge; close new window to return). This project included restoring the historic paint color scheme.   Prior to that time, the college had not made a commitment to preserve the building.  Under terms of the grant, the building had to be preserved for at least five years.  Not long after that time, the college made a major financial commitment to rehabilitate this building and its future has been secure for some time.  This is an example of how a relatively small grant can make all the difference in the fate of a building.  If a community is a Certified Local Government, a process involving application through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, federal funds can become available for a variety of preservation activities, including outright restoration work, in that community.

The major federal financial incentive is the federal rehabilitation investment tax credit.  That program provides a 20% subsidy on the costs of rehabilitation, through granting of a credit against the owner’s tax liability.  That program is available to any property owner that meets certain requirements.  First, the property needs to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s list of properties worthy of preservation.  Next, the property must be income-producing. It cannot be a single-family owner-occupied house.  Then, the rehabilitation must equal of exceed the basis value of the property, normally defined as the purchase price minus the land value. Finally, the proposed rehabilitation must comply with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.  This involves an application process through the state preservation office and the National Park Service. Often this credit may be combined with other programs, such as the federal low income housing tax credit.

Some communities offer low interest rate loans to help with rehabilitation costs.  The Cleveland Restoration Society operates a program in targeted neighborhoods of Cleveland.  Cuyahoga county is working to develop a program that would provide low interest rate loans for rehabilitation of historic properties.  Cleveland Action to Support Housing provides low interest rate loans for rehabilitation projects in general and can be used for historic preservation activities in the City of Cleveland.

Check with your community or contact us at our e-mail address or by telephone for more information about possible funding sources for your preservation project.

Own Historic Home?  |  Funding Assistance 

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Headquarters (Dover Farm) | New House at 31232 Detroit Rd | Preservation Projects | Preservation Advice
Advocacy Projects | Employment | Cape Hatteras Vacation Cottages for Weekly Rental | Our Team
Theatre Restoration | Tax Credit Projects | Tax Credit Rules | Newsletter | Resume | Contact Us | Home