According to the government, National Historic Landmarks are “buildings, sites, districts, structures and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture.” While only about 2,000 properties have been declared official National Historic Landmarks, grants are available for thousands of properties through the Historic Preservation Fund.
Basic Criteria for Grant Application
According to the Department of the Interior, securing a listing on the National Register of Historic Places “is a condition for receiving grants and loans from many state and local governments, as well as private sources.” The register was started in 1966 and is comprised of more than 80,000 properties that have been deemed historically significant at the local, state or national level.
To nominate a property, contact your state historic preservation office and be prepared to present information about the property’s “age, integrity and significance.”
Competitive Grant Programs
Competitive federal grant programs may award $5,000 to $90,000 per project and focus on: American battlefield protection; preservation of buildings at historically black colleges/ universities; American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian tribal heritage; historic preservation technology, training and research projects; conservation of national artifacts and collections; and preservation of history education and tourism programs.
Applications may require: a summary of the historic significance of the project, a copy of the property’s National Register listing and photographs of the property’s condition.
State and Local Grants
Grants in smaller funding amounts vary. Contact your local branch of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers to find out what is available in your area.
Sample programs include: downtown revitalization and “Main Street” improvement projects; heritage home and historic neighborhood preservation; historic barn and farm restoration; historic interior restoration of significant buildings; and development of marketing materials and educational programs for historic landmarks.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit organization “dedicated to saving historic places and revitalizing America's communities.” The trust provides matching grants and is affiliated with several other funding sources, including private family foundations, state and local preservation organizations and corporate partners.
While not a traditional grant, the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program encourages “private sector rehabilitation of historic buildings.” The National Park Service, the IRS and state preservation offices partner with individuals by offering tax incentives to restore historic buildings. Based on the project, individuals can receive a 10 percent to 20 percent tax credit.