Preserving Your Historic Structure's Story
Architecture is designed with intention, meaning its form says something about the building's purpose. Form follows function. Elements such as decorative cornices, windows and doors all contribute to the story of the building's purpose. This is especially true of historic buildings. Preserving their design helps to preserve the building's story and history.
Telling a Story
There is rarely, if ever, anything random or carelessly done when designing a building. The building's size and design tells something about its importance within the surrounding community. It may also tell us something about the importance or wealth of the person or entity that originally had the building constructed. Finally, the design can tell you a lot about the time in which the building was constructed.
For example, a large and imposing door way with massive windows might have been placed in a Wall Street bank to denote the importance of the building's function in that location. Conversely, a Main Street bank in a small town may have been larger and dignified for the setting in which it was placed, but still have been far more modest than its Wall Street counterpart.
A home built in the 19th century might have included more decorative design elements that reflect architectural movements such as the Georgian, Greek revival or the Italianate Revival. This contrasts the cleaner lines often found in homes designed in the 21st century.
Preserving the Story
What would be the point in preserving a historic building if its story was not also preserved? The design choices of the building's original construction tell much about the building's history and original purpose. To wipe these elements away and clean the slate would be tantamount to destroying the building and wiping away history altogether.
When restoring a building, careful consideration should be given to the building's history. It is important that the artisans and craftspeople involved in the restoration process have a thorough grounding in historic building materials and practices. Every attempt should be made to ensure that the building's historic integrity, as well as its structural integrity, is preserved.
The team at Scott Henson Architect are experts in preserving and restoring historic buildings. They direct that expertise toward preserving the character of a historic structure while ensuring that it remains a functional, contributing member of the modern urban landscape. Contact Scott Henson Architect today to find out how they can help preserve your historic treasure.
Researching Tax Rebates and Incentives in Historical Preservation
Federal and state tax credits, deductions, and property easements are designed to encourage property owners to embark on the challenging task of renovating a historic property, allowing it to function well in the modern world while keeping the character and design of the historic original. While there are differences between regions and states, basic rules apply for any historic renovation project that is hoping to qualify for tax credits or easements.
The property, whether an investment or owner-occupied, needs to be registered or listed as historic, or be located within a historic district. These are national designations as well as state, but state historic preservation offices manage the listings. Your state historic preservation office web site is the first stop for research.
Most of the tax credits and deductions are for renovation expenses, and there are usually upper and lower limits for renovation expenses. In many areas, materials and design need to conform to historic or neighborhood standards. For investment properties, there is also the need for planned access and adaptive use so the building can be accessed by multi-abled people.
A general rule of thumb is that investment properties can qualify for federal tax credits on renovation costs, while owner-occupied buildings can qualify for state credits and deductions. There is significant overlap, though. Both state and regional historic preservation offices may have a resource person who is responsible for changes in the laws and regulations, as well as grants and other funding opportunities.
Easements mean that the property owner signs away some property rights, in order to keep the property in a certain state. Many environmental easements are bringing agricultural or developed land back into wildlife corridors, for example. Property easements in historic districts or with historic properties means that the homeowner agrees in perpetuity to keep the nature and style of a property meeting historical standards. In some communities, these types of property easements can increase tax deductions and decrease both estate and property taxes.
Architects who work in historic preservation and adaptive reuse are going to be most familiar with the wide range of tax incentives, property easements, or other credit programs from the federal and state governments, and grant programs from community organizations.
Can we help you with an adaptive reuse or historic preservation project? Please contact us for more information.