Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Great Awesome Stupendous Wonderful News!

Brown-Shugart House (Walnut Manor) circa 1960

After almost 4 years of owning the house, we are finally in a National Historic District! The South Charles Town Historic District has been in the making for 10+ years, and being a governmental process, it has been slow. The district was surveyed by a historian many years ago and the nomination was never completed, so recently it was re-surveyed and the appropriate forms filled out and presented. We just got word yesterday that the district was approved.

So what does this mean? Mostly, it means that our neighborhood is being nationally recognized for its history and architecture. To us, the most exciting part is that we are eligible for state preservation grants and tax credits.

We are all a twitter here. We have read all the information about filling out the grant application, but now we need to actually do it. Its a very technical process with estimates, plans and documentation but we are excited to begin. So starts the search for contractors, the taking of pictures of the condition of the house (anyone want to crawl up to take pictures of the roof?) and then finding matching funds because they are 50/50 grants and our restoration funds are depleted.

Funding can be difficult to find. I personally think that everyone named Charity should automatically get 501 (c) (3) status!!! There are very few grant programs out there for individuals, so luckily the federal government funds state preservation grants for homeowners. The grants are competitive and need-based (how in danger is the property due to the needed repairs) and they usually only cover the exterior features. We definitely have things on our to do list that qualify like roofs, gutters, painting and window restoration, so we have a decent shot, but times are tough and there are so many historic properties worth saving.

If the grant doesn't come through, we will then apply for state tax credits. They are easier to get and cover more repairs but still involve a somewhat lengthy application process. If you receive either a grant or tax credits you are required to follow the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Rehabilitation and the State puts an easement on the property, protecting the structure from having any work done that might hurt its historic integrity.

I would personally jump through any hoops that West Virginia demands to get some state assistance. I think that I would even jump through those hoops naked wearing a tutu and balancing a ball on my nose! I already feel like a circus clown after years of juggling this restoration, so a little more freak show won't scare me.

Anyone out there applied for grants before? Advice or comments?

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