Tips for funding your bricks-and-mortar historic preservation project

By Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT

Our recent warm spell has been a welcome reminder that spring is just around the corner.  For those of us who are involved with historic buildings, spring means more than just crocuses and daffodils – it means repairs and maintenance!  Many historic property owners across the state are looking for funding this time of year, so MHT put together this primer on the basics of preservation funding for your bricks-and-mortar project.

FUNDING OPTIONS

MHT administers several grant and loan programs which assist what we refer to as “capital” (bricks-and-mortar) preservation activities.

  • MHT Historic Preservation Loan Program: The program provides low-interest loans for rehabilitation, acquisition, refinancing or predevelopment costs. MHT typically funds one to three projects a year for borrowers including nonprofit organizations, local governments, businesses and individuals, with preference given to projects with a high level of public benefit.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Key considerations: Loan amount will generally not exceed $300,000; property must be National Register listed or eligible for listing; conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required; business and individual applicants must demonstrate inability to secure funding on the private market.

Contact: Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT.

leeke-academy

Leeke Academy, in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, received MHT Loan Program, MHT Capital Grant Program, and MHAA funding for a complete restoration.

  • African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP): The AAHPP provides grants for acquisition, rehabilitation, new construction, and certain predevelopment costs (such as architect’s or engineer’s fees) for projects related to African American heritage. Projects are not required to be designated as “historic”.  Applicants can include nonprofit organizations, local governments, businesses and individuals, with preference given to projects with a high level of public benefit.  Dollar-for-dollar match is required except for nonprofit applicants.  Application deadline is July 15.

Key considerations: Grant amount will not exceed $100,000 per project per year; if the assisted property is National Register listed or eligible for listing, then conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required.

Contact: (For technical preservation issues) Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT; (for project scope and purpose) Maya Davis, Interim Director, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

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Kennard School in Centreville received AAHPP, MHAA, and MHT Capital Grant funding and is now in use as a community center.

  • Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) Grants: Grants of up to $100,000, with a required one-to-one match of non-state support, are available for capital projects, which can include acquisition, development (repair or alteration of an existing building, structure or site; or new construction), rehabilitation, restoration, and pre-development costs. Projects must be related to heritage tourism and located within one of the state’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas.  Only nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply. An Intent to Apply form is due at the end of January.

Key considerations:  Due to the competitive nature of the program, grants for capital projects average $54,000; the conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement may be required on certain historic properties.

Contact:  Find your local heritage area contact using the map and links here: http://mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas.shtml. You can also contact Jen Ruffner, Maryland Heritage Areas Program.

  • Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) Loans: Loans are available to nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions, individuals and businesses to assist with the preservation of heritage resources and the enhancement of heritage attractions and visitor services located within a Certified Heritage Area. Eligible activities include acquisition, development, rehabilitation, restoration, leasehold improvements, and purchase of equipment, furnishings, and inventory.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Key considerations:  The maximum loan commitment made for any specific project is limited by the available uncommitted balance of the MHAA Financing Fund.  Up to 50 percent of the total project cost will be provided based on an assessment of the applicant’s financial need.

Contact:  Jen Ruffner, Maryland Heritage Areas Program.

  • MHT Historic Preservation (Capital) Grant Program: After a long hiatus, we might be able to welcome the return of Capital Grant funding in FY2018.  The program provides grants to nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions, individuals and businesses for acquisition, rehabilitation, and pre-development costs related to properties listed on or eligible for the National Register.  The conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required for all assisted projects.  Dollar-for-dollar match is required except for nonprofit applicants.  If funding for the program is provided, additional information about the application process will be available on our grants main page in May 2017.

In addition to these programs, we often direct our partners and constituents toward the following programs based on their project-specific needs:

Finally, MHT’s own handout on Potential Funding Sources for Heritage Preservation Projects, which has recently been updated, covers a range of options available from national and private sources.

PITCHING YOUR PROJECT TO FUNDERS

Now that we’ve identified some options for funding, the next step is to write an application.  In our grant workshops, we often provide a tip sheet for grant writing in general.  However, for this post we wanted to provide some additional insights about how to think through, develop, and explain a rehabilitation or construction project in the context of a grant or loan application.

First, it is important for you to be clear about the basic parameters of the project.

  • What kind of project are you undertaking? (Acquisition, refinancing, rehabilitation, new construction, predevelopment?)
  • What is the scope of the entire project from start to finish? (Is it as simple as a roof replacement, or is it a complicated multi-phase rehabilitation project costing many millions of dollars?)
  • What will the entire project cost? (You may need to hire an architect or project manager to help estimate costs for a very large project.  If you are undertaking a smaller project, we generally recommend that you obtain at least one price proposal in order to make an accurate grant application.)

Next, you need to determine what funding options are available to you.

  • What funding sources & resources are available for your specific project and applicant type?
  • Is it advantageous for your application to break down the project into phases and apply for each phase individually, as you are ready to undertake it?
  • Will you need more than one grant? Are you expecting multiple, sequential grants from the same program?  Funders always like to see that applicants are trying to secure funding from diverse sources – including their own fundraising.

Once you are writing a grant application, you will need to develop a clear scope of work – what are you including in the scope of this particular grant request?  What isn’t included?

  • Define a project that meaningfully relates to the grant amount: break it down. Typically a grant application will be more successful if it allows the completion of one discrete work item than if it provides for only partial progress toward one or more items.
  • Have a plan for how you will pay for any required matching funds and other costs that are necessary to complete the project. Funders want to know that you will be able to complete the whole project successfully.
  • Develop a meaningful and reasonable project schedule or timeline. What work can you reasonably accomplish within the specified grant performance period?  (Most grants are time-sensitive and have specific beginning and ending dates.)  According to your project timeline, are you READY for a grant?
  • Will your organization be able to manage the project (and the potential grant), or do you need to hire a project manager or architect? Know what expertise the project requires and assemble a strong project team.

Finally, convince the funder that they should fund you. Most funding programs are very competitive, and it is up to you to demonstrate that your project is important, and that it needs to happen NOW.

  • How do your goals reflect those of the funder? Don’t feel embarrassed to write about your larger goals and aspirations.
  • Be convincing about the significance and urgency of the project.
  • Review and understand the program’s selection criteria. Address them clearly and concisely!
  • Show your commitment to the project: how will it be sustained into the future? (How will you protect the investment that you are asking the funder to make?)
  • Show the funder that you have cultivated widespread support for your project from:
    • the community
    • your local, state, and federal representatives
    • any local, state, or federal agencies that may be involved
    • other organizations that may have similar goals

Now that you know what funding possibilities are out there, and you know what funders are looking for in an application, why not get started?  Can your project really wait another year?

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Charles Sumner GAR Post #25 in Chestertown in 2001, before its rehabilitation using MHT Capital, AAHPP, and MHAA grant funds.

 

 

 

Interpretation at Sotterley Plantation: The Road to Relevance

By Jeanne Pirtle, Education Director, Historic Sotterley, Inc.

Historic Sotterley Plantation has a long history, to be sure. It has also been open to the public as a museum since 1960.  Let’s see, what was happening in the 1960’s? Schools were still segregated. Jim Crow was still alive.  And in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Sotterley’s last private owner had decided to open Sotterley and create a non-profit so that it could be preserved.  As with most house museums at that time, the early tours focused on the furnishings and lives of the owners with a little legend, lore and myth mixed in.  After the owner’s death in 1993, ownership went to the Sotterley Foundation, which is now Historic Sotterley, Inc.

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In the early 1970’s, a visitor and her father came to the museum.  They paid their two dollars for a tour.  They noticed a slave cabin on the property, but on their tour of the house nothing was mentioned about the slave cabin.  The visitor was Agnes Kane Callum.

Agnes was born in Baltimore in 1925.  She had raised her family while working for the post office. After retirement she earned two degrees from Morgan State University.  She continued to research her family and found a connection to Sotterley.  Her ancestors, Hillary and Elsa Cane, were enslaved there in the 19th century. Agnes made it her passion and mission to have the story of her family told in Sotterley’s narrative. She kept visiting Sotterley with research in hand, bringing large groups of her family and friends with her.  Eventually, Agnes became a trustee on Sotterley’s board and developed an education program for middle school students that is still taught today, Slavery to Freedom.

In 1996, Sotterley was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered” list.  Agnes joined forces with owner descendants to save Sotterley. It was rescued and grant money was used to help restore the house and cabin. For some years, tours focused on this restoration with a few stories of the enslaved, but still it was not a complete and inclusive narrative.

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Sotterley’s slave cabin

In 2010, with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Sotterley began work on a re-interpretation and developed research-based tours that moved past the romanticism to reveal a realistic view of the plantation’s story seen through different perspectives.  An exhibit in the slave cabin, as well as other projects focused on changing perspectives in interpretation at Sotterley, were assisted by grants from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.  In 2012, Sotterley was recognized as a port site through the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP).  In 2014, Land, Lives and Labor became Historic Sotterley Plantation’s first permanent exhibit created to focus on the people who lived and labored for the owners from 1699 into the mid 20th century.  It is housed in the Corn Crib, which was restored using funding from the African American Heritage Preservation Program, administered by MHT and the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

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“Land, Lives, and Labor” exhibit, housed in the Corn Crib

Agnes Kane Callum passed away in 2015.  Sotterley will remember her life and legacy as we dedicate the new Slave Cabin exhibit to her memory this April.  This exhibit will focus on the lives of her ancestors, Hillary and Alice Elsa Cane and their children and allow visitors to experience a window into their lives.

At Historic Sotterley, we continue to tell the stories of all who lived and worked here, as we remember our roots and the people who helped us along the way, not just in February, but every day. We welcome every visitor who anticipates a new discovery and finds relevance in our collective past.

2016 Cultural Resources Hazard Mitigation Planning Grants Awarded

With funding from the National Park Service Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fund, the Maryland Historical Trust has awarded seven grants throughout the state to help protect historic places and archeological sites from future storms. These grants will be supported by the Trust’s Cultural Resources Hazard Mitigation Planning Program, which was created to assist local governments to better plan and prepare for the effects of coastal storms and other hazards that impact historic places and properties. The grant projects are described below.

Anne Arundel

Early 20th century vernacular home common to Shady Side

Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation, Inc., Phase I Hazard Mitigation Planning for Anne Arundel’s Cultural Resources: $32,000
Three areas in the county (Shady Side and Deale; Pasadena; and Maryland City, Laurel, and Jessup) face the highest risk to flooding and contain the most undocumented historic structures, as well as unsurveyed potential archeological resources. To remedy this, the Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation will conduct a study to identify historic structures and archeological sites and evaluate the potential damages caused by flooding.

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The River Farm site inundated by high tide

Archeological Society of Maryland, Inc., Sustainable Models for Sites Endangered by Natural Hazards: $32,000
The Archeological Society of Maryland will gather information about several archeological sites in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County and St. Mary’s County that are slowly being destroyed due to eroding shorelines and water intrusion from coastal storms and increased tidal flooding. In St. Mary’s County, at the possible location of the Native American village known as Secowocomoco, testing will inform future decisions about excavation and protection from ongoing erosion. Studies in the Battle Creek watershed (Calvert County) will help researchers understand the foodways and lifeways practiced by the Native Americans who lived there. At River Farm, a large Native American settlement along the Patuxent River, investigations will locate site boundaries, determine eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and inform planning against future erosion and flooding. The Society will develop a series of case studies to provide guidance for public-private partnerships engaged in survey, assessment, and protection of archeological resources threatened by natural hazards and climate change.

Baltimore

Historic Fells Point, a waterfront neighborhood

City of Baltimore, Integrating Historic and Cultural Considerations into Baltimore’s All Hazards Plan: $30,390
The City of Baltimore contains more than 80,000 historic properties and many of its oldest neighborhoods, such as Fells Point and Jonestown, are located on or near waterways, making them vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, storm surge and flooding. With this grant, the City will identify high-priority historic areas and buildings that are significantly impacted by flooding, evaluate the impacts of flooding, and incorporate the results of evaluation into their Disaster and Preparedness Project and Plan (DP3), which is the City’s climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plan. The City will also identify methods for protecting vulnerable historic structures that are in accordance with the DP3 and amenable to the City’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.

Dorchester

Flooding on Elliotts Island Road (credit: K. Clendaniel)

Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area, Hazard Mitigation Planning Project for Dorchester County: $44,000
Beginning in the mid-seventeenth century, Dorchester County has a long history of occupation first by Native Americans and later by English settlement along its waterways. One of the greatest periods of historic significance for the county is 1825 to 1900, during which the agricultural economy shifted to towards the canning industry. There are many properties constructed during that period of significance that are at risk to flooding due to coastal storms, sea level rise, and tidal flooding, but have not been identified and studied to understand their contribution to history. Dorchester County will conduct a survey to identify areas with historic structures vulnerable to flooding and evaluate their vulnerability to flood hazards.

Port Deposit

Flooding from Hurricane Irene (credit: Town of Port Deposit)

Town of Port Deposit, Cultural Resources Inventory and Risk Assessment for Cecil Towns: $40,000
This project encompasses hazard mitigation planning efforts in two Cecil County historic towns: Port Deposit and Elkton. The Town of Port Deposit is located adjacent to the Susquehanna River, which makes the town’s historic district susceptible to flood damage by heavy rain events, coastal storms and ice jams. An updated historic and architectural investigation will be undertaken to re-evaluate and update the National Register of Historic Places nomination as the first step in planning to protect Port Deposit’s buildings from further flood damage. Situated along Big Elk Creek, the Town of Elkton’s Main Street and Historic District has a history of flooding that dates back to the nineteenth century. Elkton’s historic properties are vulnerable to flooding from coastal storms, large rain events and snow melt. To address this, a survey will identify historic structures vulnerable to flooding and assess the potential damages that could occur.

Smith Island

Crab shanty in Ewell

Smith Island United, Inc., Smith Island Cultural Resources Hazard Mitigation Planning Initiative: $9,000
Situated in the Chesapeake Bay and accessible only by water, Smith Island is comprised of three communities — Ewell, Rhodes Point and Tylerton — which have a history of experiencing coastal storms. The historic occupation of the island dates back to the seventeenth century, although the majority of buildings on the island date to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Under this grant, an evaluation of flood mitigation measures for representative historic house types in each of the three villages will be conducted. The results will be used to develop preservation-sensitive models for flood protection for historic houses of similar construction.

Talbot

W-shaped Victorian house in Tilghman

Talbot County, Documentation and Assessment of Historic Resources in Western Water-Oriented Villages: $60,000
Talbot County contains thirteen unincorporated water-oriented villages, many of which have historic structures dating back to the eighteenth century. The four villages of Tilghman, Neavitt, Newcomb, and Royal Oak have a large number of unrecorded historic structures at high risk of flooding due to tidal events and coastal storms like Hurricane Sandy. This project will identify key historic properties that convey the history and heritage of each village, conduct a study to determine those properties’ vulnerability to coastal storms, and estimate the potential damages that could occur.

 

Maryland Heritage Areas Grants Workshops and Webinar – Register Today!

Cove Point Light and Keeper's House

Cove Point Light and Keeper’s House

 

It’s that time of year again!

Are you located in a Certified Heritage Area?

Are you interested in learning more about grants that are available for capital and non-capital projects relating to the preservation of historical, archeological, natural and cultural resources and heritage tourism?

If so, you will want to attend one of two upcoming grant workshops or a grants webinar that are being offered by the Maryland Heritage Areas Program. These sessions are an opportunity to learn more about the FY 2016 grant program and the new online application process.  You will also be able to ask any questions you may have about the program, or a project you are considering. Continue reading