By Marla Collum
Libraries, schoolhouses, railroad depots, churches, and courthouses are some examples of historic places that have benefited from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns, a preservation fund dedicated to communities with populations of 5,000 or less. Grants from this fund provide crucial support in “small town America,” often filling a philanthropic void that might not otherwise exist in these communities. To date grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns have been awarded to nonprofits and public agencies in 22 states throughout the country.
Grants from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns generally range from $2,500 to $10,000 and are awarded for planning activities and education efforts focused on preservation. The fund provides seed money for preservation projects in small towns that help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain technical expertise needed for particular projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage additional fundraising for the project at the local level.
Some recent grantees include:
Bernadotte Historical Society
The Bernadotte Bridge (also known as the Spoon River Bridge) was built in 1915 and served as a pedestrian bridge allowing children to travel to and from school until it was closed in 2007. Grant funding supported an evaluation and preparation of cost estimates by a registered engineer for the rehabilitation of the bridge. The completed report is helping the historical society understand rehabilitation needs and providing the basis for future fundraising.
Town of Brookfield
Brookfield, New Hampshire
In collaboration with the Brookfield Heritage Commission, the Town of Brookfield hired a consultant to produce a conditions assessment and preservation plan for the Town House (1822) and attached Churchill School House (1801) in Brookfield, N.H. The proposed assessment and preservation plan outlined appropriate treatments, cost estimates, and prioritized recommendations for the structures, which is informing a long-range plan for the maintenance and preservation of the buildings.
Dundee Woman’s Club
The Dundee Woman’s Club (1915) is one of the last remaining examples of rural community centers built in Oregon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Funds from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns were used to prepare a comprehensive and coordinated plan for a phased restoration of the club, which continues to be used as a community center. The grant and resulting planning documents also helped leverage additional funding from a local foundation, which funded the first phase of construction work, beginning with the rehabilitation of the building’s facade.
Read the full guidelines for the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns on our website.
The annual application deadline for the Hart Fund is May 1, 2013.
Marla Collum is grants manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.