Section 110: An Introduction

Posted on: July 2nd, 2015 by Special Contributor No Comments


By John H. Sprinkle, Jr., Ph.D.

As we approach the 50-year mark of the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Preservation Leadership Forum has enlisted the help of preservation practitioners to take a close look at how the NHPA is used to protect historic places. Earlier this year we took a look at Section 106, and today we're kicking off a series on Section 110, a provision that requires federal agencies to establish a historic preservation program for the identification and protection of historic properties under their direct control or ownership. In this first post, John Sprinkle, describes the origin of Section 110 and its impact on historic preservation practice since its implementation in 1980.

The St. Louis Post Office took center stage during the discussions surrounding the creation of Section 110. It was a critical example of what should be done with surplus federally owned, historically significant buildings that are proposed for sale, transfer or demolition. | Credit: Matthew Black via Flickr under Creative Commons.

Nixon's Executive Order 11593 directed federal agencies to inventory and evaluate their historic properties, since many agencies were unaware of the historic significance of the buildings they occupied.  The proposed demolition of the federally owners St. Louis Post Office took center stage during the discussions surrounding the creation of Section 110. | Credit: Matthew Black via Flickr under Creative Commons.

It started with a memo:

Ernest: Attached are my thoughts about the bill I’m concocting ... you may recognize a few pilfered phrases. Best, Loretta.

In early 1976, Loretta Neumann, Congressman John Seiberling’s legislative director, sent Ernest Connally, the head of historic preservation programs at the National Park Service, a two-page list of ideas for amending the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).1 While the “new preservation” envisioned in 1966 was still partially under construction, Neumann and Connally sought to improve the NHPA by:... Read More →

Preservation Legal Tools: Receiverships

Posted on: June 30th, 2015 by Special Contributor No Comments


The vacant and deteriorating Emerson mansion in Baltimore is the subject of a current receivership action." | Credit:  Baltimore Slumlord Watch

The vacant and deteriorating Emerson mansion in Baltimore is the subject of a current receivership action.
| Credit: Baltimore Slumlord Watch

By Lane Pearson

It is a familiar problem encountered by preservationists: A historic building is deteriorating due to neglect, and for various reasons—a stubborn property owner, clouded title, feuding heirs—no responsible party is willing or able to address the problem. The situation may arise in the context of a property owner who refuses to uphold the requirements of a preservation easement, or it could be the result of an abandoned property where the owner cannot be identified or located.

In cases like these, traditional legal remedies may be inadequate, requiring communities to explore other solutions. Enter the concept of receivership1 an equitable remedy that temporarily transfers possession of real property to a court-appointed receiver for the purposes of enforcing preservation easement obligations or abating building code violations.

A receiver is an officer of the court, appointed by the court in equity. The distinction between “law” and “equity” is a vestige of English common law, which recognizes that the interests of fairness and justice may be better served when the court can offer a discretionary, “equitable” remedy, like an injunction or an order for specific performance, rather than a remedy “at law,” which is generally limited to monetary damages. While title to a property in receivership remains with the owner, legal possession is held by the court; thus any interference with the receiver’s control of the property is treated as contempt of court, not mere trespass against the receiver personally.... Read More →

Interview with New US/ICOMOS Executive Director Andrew Potts

Posted on: May 5th, 2015 by Elizabeth Byrd Wood


Many Forum members might be familiar with Andrew Potts’ work as a tax guy. He knows real estate tax law inside and out. He has spoken and written extensively on the federal rehabilitation tax credit and is an expert on preservation finance. In fact, it was his interest in historic rehabilitation tax credits that first led him to his current position as the new executive director of US/ICOMOS.

Several years ago, when Potts was working as an attorney for the law firm of Nixon Peabody in Washington, D.C., he got the idea to organize a seminar that focused on the various historic preservation tax incentives found in other countries. This led him to join US/ICOMOS, become involved in one of the organization’s Scientific Committees, and eventually serve on the organization’s board. This past February he began a two-year leave-of-absence from Nixon Peabody to take the reins of US/ICOMOS.... Read More →

About Elizabeth Byrd Wood

Elizabeth Byrd Wood is senior content manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.