The FAQs are provided by Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture, LLP to assist owners of historic properties in finding accurate information and assistance for the stewardship of their property.
What is classified as a historic property?
A historic property is a site, building or structure with historic significance due to its age, architecture or its history; historic properties may be simply commonly acknowledged as such or they may be designated or listed as historic by a national, state or local program.
At the national level, the National Register of Historic Places lists resources with historic or architectural significance while the Texas Historical Commission can list a property as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark or as a State Archeological Landmark. Additionally, many municipalities have landmark programs that ‘designate’ historic properties.
To become a listed or designated property, research and documentation of the property’s historical, architectural and cultural history is required. Typically, designation involves a process that takes several months to a year to complete.
What does ‘designation’ of a historic property mean?
Designation of a historic property typically means a property has been designated (or listed) as a historic property by a national, state or local public agency. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places and Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks are typically educational in nature and offer little or no protection for the property.
However, many local municipalities have historic designation programs that do offer protection to historic buildings, structures and districts. These protections may include guidelines for making changes to the exterior of the property and prohibition of demolition. Local designation is typically the strongest designation tool available.
What is a historic building marker?
A historic marker is a permanent, descriptive sign or plaque attached to a site, building or structure noting its historic significance; they are an excellent way to both educate others and bring recognition to the historic resource. There are several marker programs available to designated historic properties.
At the national level are markers for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places (www.cr.nps.gov), on the state level are markers for Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks and for State Archeological Landmarks (www.thc.state.tx.us), and your local community may have a marker program as well.
Consult with your city government or visit the websites provided here for more information. Markers do not generally offer any protection to the historic resource.
What funding is available to historic properties?
Funding assistance for preserving historic properties is limited and includes private and public sources. In the private sector are many foundations that may fund historic preservation planning or “bricks and mortar” work. Usually, these private foundations have related interests, such as education or affordable housing.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation offers emergency funds, typically for planning purposes (www.nationaltrust.org). On the public side are federal sources that include the Department of the Interior’s Save America’s Treasures grants and Rehabilitation Tax Credit program (www.cr.nps.gov).
At the state level, the Texas Historical Commission (www.thc.state.tx.us) has a grant program for planning, training and documentation work. The use of state highway funding for transportation enhancements has been a significant source of funding for many preservation projects in the past, administered by the state Department of Transportation.
At the local level, some municipalities offer a wide variety of incentives that may include preservation easements, low interest loans, tax incentives, design assistance and participation in Main Street programs.
What does a preservation architect do?
Preservation architecture is the practice of preserving or restoring historic properties by an architect trained and experienced in this area of expertise. Preservation architecture is a specialization of architectural services that is recognized by the federal government (Historical Architect), the American Institute of Architects (Preservation Architect) and others.
If you have a historic property that needs repair or improvements to meet current-day standards for safety, accessibility or function, you should consult with a Preservation Architect. The Preservation Architect will be able to address the needs of your building without damaging historic materials and without affecting the historic character of your property.
Knowledge of repair techniques and resources for historic materials and an understanding of the historic value of a property are specific skills provided by someone trained in preservation architecture.
Where can I get more information about historic preservation?
The best sources for information on historic preservation are the Department of the Interior, Heritage Preservation Services (www.cr.nps.gov) for technical information and funding or financial incentives and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (www.nationaltrust.org) for grass-roots programs and information about how to plan for preservation in your community.
The National Trust’s primary goal is education; hence, they offer tours, conferences, publications and other programs aimed at educating the public about preservation. At the state level, the Texas Historical Commission offers a variety of programs to assist local communities with preservation, heritage tourism and funding (www.thc.state.tx.us).
In Dallas, Preservation Dallas provides assistance and resources associated with the preservation of Dallas’ historic buildings and neighborhoods (www.preservationdallas.org).
We are committed to helping owners of historic properties find accurate information and assistance for the stewardship of their property.