How do I save a historic building from threats or demolition?

There is no single method that will guarantee that a historic structure will be saved; but there are tools available to assist and approaches you can take. When a historic building or site is endangered it is crucial to gather all of the important information about the site and to communicate to others the educational, economic, and social benefits of protecting the site.

Historic Designation
Designating a historic site as significant by listing it to state, local, or federal historic registers provides validity that your site is historic, and may provide some limited protections. Listing on historic registers is also a requirement to receive some grants. See below for more information historic registers.

Recruiting Others
Very often it takes the work of a community, using resources at all levels, to save a historic site. It is important to broaden your constituency and include as many neighborhood associations, historical societies, preservation organizations, students and experts in the field as possible. It is also important to include other active people in your community, not specifically associated with historic preservation such as civic organization members, local government staff, elected officials, and developers. Churches are also a great place to discuss, and get support on important preservation issues.

Form Nonprofit or a Friends Group
Forming a Friends Group with a specific purpose is an effective way to organize your efforts. If your Friends Group becomes a 501c3 it adds legitimacy to the effort and it makes it easier to acquire grants.

Public Action
Letter writing, petitions, letters to the editors, public rallies, and communicating with the press are all good ways to raise awareness and increase support for your preservation project.

Saving a historic site often means acquiring or raising funds to perform studies. See above for information on funding for preservation projects.

For more information, contact Preservation Virginia staff or see the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “How to Save a Place” toolkit series at and