Where can I find financial help to restore my historic house?
Most grants are available only to nonprofits or governmental entities, but each year, Preservation Virginia actively fights for the continuation and expansion of historic tax credit and easement programs, which can provide substantial financial assistance to private property owners’ preservation projects. Preservation Virginia has also made it a priority in its Vision 2020 Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign to create a community action fund, which would allow us to make grants or loans to property owners in Virginia. However, this is part of a long term plan, which will take a few years to establish, so for now, property owners must explore the options listed below for their preservation purposes.
Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Programs
Private property owners can benefit from tax incentives including historic rehabilitation tax credits, which in many cases allow for a significant return on investments. Virginia has one of the best state Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Programs in the nation. If your property is income-producing, you are also eligible for Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits. For more information, please contact the Virginia Department of Historic Resources at http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/tax_credits/tax_credit.htm or the National Park Service at https://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm.
By donating a historic preservation easement, or a land conservation easement on a property, private property owners are eligible for tax incentives. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources manages historic preservation easements. For more information see https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/easements/. For information about land conservation easements, see the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/land-conservation/land-con-programs.
Some local governments in Virginia offer qualified historic properties partial property tax exemptions. Please contact your local government financial office for more information.
Federal preservation grant opportunities are available through the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The National Park Service grants, including the African American Civil Rights Grants, Save America’s Treasures, the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant, the History of Equal Rights Grants, Semiquincentennial Grants, HBCU Grants, Underrepresented Communities Grants, Tribal Heritage Grants, and Disaster Recovers Grants. All NPS grants are funded from the Historic Preservation Fund. For more information see NPS’s website at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/historicpreservationfund/project-grants.htm.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the nationwide, privately funded, historic preservation nonprofit organization, has been the leader in the country for over 70 years in saving America’s historic places. NTHP has 13 different grant programs, for preservation research, planning, and bricks-and mortar projects; as well as the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. See https://savingplaces.org/grants#.Ydh1Rf7MJPZ for more information.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources administers several grants for preservation research, maintenance, planning, and bricks-and-mortar projects. See https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/grants/ and https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/pdf_files/fig.pdf for more information. These grants include the African American Cemetery and Graves Fund, which provides funds for the care and maintenance of African American cemeteries and graves, which are established prior to January 1, 1900.
Revolutionary War Graves and Cemeteries Fund: For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions about the Revolutionary War graves fund at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/archaeology/cemetery-preservation-frequently-asked-questions/#RevolutionaryGraves.
DHR also administers Certified Local Government (CLG) Grants for local governments. Local jurisdictions must be a Certified Local Government to be eligible to apply for CLG grants. For information on CLG grants, please visit the CLG webpage at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/certified-local-government-clg/.
Cost Share Grants: DHR’s Survey and Planning Cost Share Program assists local governments in meeting their preservation planning goals through identification of historic resources. For more information regarding the survey program, see these Frequently Asked Questions at https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/survey-planning/cost-share-grant-program/.
Other grants administered through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources include the Threatened Sites Grant Program, Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund, and ESHPF Disaster Relief Assistance Grants.
The Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, grants to cultural projects seeking to preserve a variety of resource types including battlefields, viewsheds, and historic buildings. For more information, contact the the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/virginia-land-conservation-foundation/.
As part of the Virginia Main Street Program, communities can use the traditional assets of downtown, such as unique architecture and locally owned businesses, to work as a catalyst for economic growth and community pride. The Virginia Main Street Program is administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. See https://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/vms for more information.
Local Grants and Financial Assistance
Many localities in the Commonwealth are serviced by Community Foundations, which often provide grants for local or regional preservation projects. Some private and corporate foundations in Virginia provide funds for preservation projects. Please check for local foundations in your area, or see https://www.dhr.virginia.gov/pdf_files/fig.pdf.
Some local Businesses such as Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, and other retail stores often provide grants for preservation projects, especially if the project benefits the overall community. Service organizations and clubs such as the Kiwanis, Garden Club, Ruritan, Lions, and Rotary also provide grants if the project will benefit the overall community. Another potential opportunity are educational institutions. Some universities and colleges need preservation projects for students.
Links for more information on financial assistance for preservation projects:
The National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Tax Incentives (Technical Preservation Services)
The National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Grants Program