College Street Congregational Church, an 1866 Gothic-revival style church in Burlington, Vermont.| Credit: Preservation Trust of Vermont

College Street Congregational Church in Burlington, Vermont, used I/E funding to plan for repairs to its fire-damaged steeple.| Credit: Preservation Trust of Vermont

When your historic building is damaged by a storm or fire, it can be difficult to imagine where funding will come from to bring it back to its former glory. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Emergency/Intervention (E/I) funding may be able to help.

We would love to help save all the old buildings that suffer damage each year, but our funding for emergency purposes is quite limited, so we do have some restrictions. Applicants need to be a Forum-level member of the National Trust, and must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or a government agency. Like with the majority of the NTHP’s grant funds, E/I funds can only be used for planning purposes. This means that E/I funds cannot go toward the cleanup or bricks-and-mortar reconstruction of a building. Instead we can pay for your organization to bring in professionals, such as a structural engineer, to create a renovation plan for the building. The good news is that since this work probably wasn’t included in your annual budget, we don’t require a cash match for your grant.

So what do we consider an emergency? Intervention funding from the National Trust is awarded in emergency situations when immediate and unanticipated work is needed to save a historic structure. In general, the event that causes the damage has to have been recent, as in the last few weeks or months, and it can’t be something that could’ve been prevented. Damage due to a fire, flood, or high winds is a good example. But not every emergency is brought on by a natural disaster. Funding can also be used to support advocacy campaigns in response to pending legislation or development pressures. We’re always happy to talk through your situation and help you if your project qualifies and we have funding available.... Read More →

Lessons from the Legacy City Conference

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by Special Contributor 1 Comment


View of Cincinnati at the Legacy Cities convening. | Credit: Historic Preservation in America's Legacy Cities

Cleveland was the site of the Historic Preservation in America's Legacy Cities convening. | Credit: Historic Preservation in America's Legacy Cities

By Cara Bertron

There is a small and dedicated group of preservation pragmatists emerging in the U.S. They swap notes during lunch at the National Preservation Conference and dig into preservation issues after attending conferences focused on managing vacant property. They cut deals with planners, help shape land banks, and talk shop with code enforcement officials. They are familiar with mothballing and signs of long vacancy. In some cases, they embrace demolitions.

These are legacy city preservationists, with realism in one pocket and determined optimism in the other. They appreciate wood-sash windows as much as anyone, but they care more about keeping buildings occupied and standing in communities where the longstanding disinvestment and decades of population loss stack a high deck against them. They champion preservation where current community stories are told alongside long-dead history, where equity is a central issue, and where deals in which one vacant building is razed and six are left standing are deals worth doing. It’s a long way from the early preservation movement predicated on preserving intact neighborhoods and maintaining building integrity.

Most recently, legacy city preservationists and allies gathered in Cleveland in early June for the Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities convening organized by the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and the Cleveland Restoration Society. Participants showed up from all over—nearly 270 people, blowing through the organizers’ success threshold of 100 attendees.... Read More →

Protecting Daufuskie’s Gullah Houses

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by Special Contributor 1 Comment


By Mike E. Bedenbaugh 

Frances Jones House Before | Credit: The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation

Frances Jones House before restoration. | Credit: The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation

Daufuskie Island is an isolated barrier island just south of Beaufort, South Carolina, and north of Savannah. It has a rich history associated with the Gullah, descendants of enslaved Africans who live on the barrier Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Following the Civil War, the island was home to the newly freed slaves and became a destination for other freedmen to take advantage of the developing oyster industry. By the 1920s, the island boasted a population of well over 1,500 persons who made a living off of the oyster industry, farming and fishing. Due to the island’s isolation, the Gullah culture and language remained very strong and prominent well into the mid-20th century.

In the 1950s, however, the oyster beds collapsed because of pollution in the nearby Savannah River from numerous wood pulp mills up river, and many families left for better opportunities in nearby Savannah. In the 1980s, development arrived on the island in the form of several private gated communities, leaving less than a third of the island still owned by the original Gullah families.... Read More →