The State of Vermont has small matching grants for barn projects, available annually if funded by the Vermont legislature. The Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation awards the grants, which are administered by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The grants are for work that helps preserve the historic features of agricultural buildings. This includes repairs to roofs, foundations, sills, windows, walls, and structural framework. New construction, additions, and electrical or heating work are not eligible. To be eligible for a grant, a barn or other agricultural building must be listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Buildings on both working farms and former farms are eligible. (See the "Historic Register Listings" section for information about National Register eligibility.)
Anyone with an eligible building can apply for a grant. Applicants must spend an amount of cash equal to or greater than the amount they apply for. In other words, the grant will only pay for up to half of the amount of cash spent on the work. The applicant must keep paperwork on how the grant is spent and agree that all work on the building for the next 5 years will meet historic preservation guidelines (see the "Historic Preservation Standards" section).
Applications for the barn grants are available
from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
(if funds have been appropriated). For more information contact the Vermont Division for Historic
Preservation Barn Grant Program.
Historic Preservation Easements
An easement is a means property owners can employ to ensure that a historic barn is protected and maintained forever. It is a legally recognized agreement between an owner and an organization eligible to hold and enforce such an agreement. It gives a less-than fee simple interest in a property to the organization. The property remains in private hands, and the organization ensures that the building is protected no matter who owns the property.
To create an easement, the building is documented with photos and in writing to identify what important features will be protected. This documentation is incorporated by reference in the contract between the owner and the organization that is recorded with the Town Clerk. The easement then requires that all current and future owners abide by the terms requiring protection and maintenance of the important historic features of the building.
The value of an easement may be considered a charitable donation if it is given to a non-profit organization. The value of the donation is the value of the property without an easement minus the value of it with the easement (which depends on a wide variety of circumstances for individual properties). The donation of an easement may also reduce estate and local real property taxes.
The Preservation Trust of Vermont is one
organization eligible to hold historic preservation easements
in Vermont. For more information on easements and how they might work for your
building contact the Trust. (Preservation Trust of Vermont, Windsor
House, PO Box 1777, Windsor, VT 05089; Paul Bruhn, Executive Director,
104 Church St., Burlington, VT 05401, (802)658-6647.)
Historic Preservation Grants
The State of Vermont has small matching
grants for preservation projects on historic buildings (including
barns) owned by non-profits and municipalities. The Vermont Advisory
Council on Historic Preservation awards the grants, which are
administered by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation Grant Program.
Agricultural buildings can be eligible for the grants if they are owned by a non-profit organization or a municipality and open to the public. A building must also be listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. (See the "Historic Register Listings" section for information about National Register eligibility).
The grants are for work that repairs or helps preserve a historic building. This includes repairs to roofs, foundations, windows, walls, structural framework, and decorative elements. New construction, additions, and electrical or heating work are not eligible.
Applicants must spend an amount of cash equal to the amount they apply for. In other words, the grant will only pay for half of the amount of cash spent on the work. The applicant must keep paperwork on how the grant is spent and agree that all work on the building for the next five years will meet historic preservation guidelines (see the "Historic Preservation Standards" section).
Applications for the grants are available
in late spring (after the end of the legislative session) from
the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (if funds have
been appropriated). For more information on the Vermont Historic
Preservation Grant program contact the Vermont Division for Historic
Historic Preservation Notification Provisions
The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
purchases development rights and conservation easements from farm
owners to preserve working farms. If there are one or more historic
buildings on a farm, the conservation easement may contain a paragraph
called a "Historic Preservation Notification Provision"
for the building(s). A Notification Provision for a historic building
included in a conservation easement makes that project a higher
priority for VHCB funding than the project would be without it.
This "Notification Provision"
is an agreement between the owner and the VHCB that owners will
consider historic preservation guidelines when they do any work
on the specified building(s). Owners further agree to notify the
VHCB before doing some types of work that may affect a building's
The Notification Provision does not require
that owners follow the preservation guidelines, only that they
consider them. It provides no enforceable protection for a historic
building. After notifying the VHCB and letting the required time
period elapse, owners can do whatever they think is best.
The intent of a Notification Provision is
to allow the VHCB to suggest to owners possible alternatives to any work that might alter
a building's historic character. It may also give the VHCB and
other groups time to find sources of funding to help owners do
work they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Historic Register Listings
The National Register of Historic Places
is the official Federal listing of buildings, sites, and objects
considered significant in American history and culture. The State
of Vermont has a similar listing called the State Register of
Historic Places. Both listings recognize the buildings and archeological
sites that are an important part of our history and worthy of
To be eligible for listing in the registers,
agricultural buildings generally must be over fifty years old,
retain their historic appearance, and either be individually noteworthy
or part of a historic farm and farmyard. Many historic barns in
Vermont are listed in the registers and many more are eligible.
(See "A Short History of Vermont Agricultural
Buildings" for many of the different types of agricultural
buildings that may be eligible for the registers.)
Listing in the registers does not create
zoning or other restrictions on what owners can do with their
property. Using your own money, you can alter or even tear down
a building on the registers without consulting anyone in the state
or federal government. Listing does not require you to open your
property to the public.
Listing in the registers does provide a
property some protection from the actions of the state and federal
governments. Agencies or individuals who receive funding, licenses
or permits for projects from the state or federal government must
consider how their projects affect properties that are listed
or are eligible for listing. They must attempt to minimize any
negative impacts of their projects on listed or eligible properties.
The Vermont Division for Historic Preservation assists state and
federal agencies by commenting on their consideration of historic
properties in projects.
Listing in the National Register of Historic
Places has the special benefit of qualifying an income-producing
property for the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit
(see "Tax Credits" following).
It may also qualify your property for special historic preservation
matching grants (see "Barn-Aid Programs"
section). Properties that are eligible for but not listed in the
National Register may also qualify.
For more information on eligibility for
and listing in the registers, and for any information that may already be compiled about your
building, contact the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.
The owners of income-producing properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit.
The credit is a powerful tool to encourage investment in historic buildings so that they will be useful for many years to come.
The credit is a federal income tax credit for 20% of the total cost of a rehabilitation that exceeds the adjusted basis of a building (the value of the property minus the value of the land and any depreciation taken). The rehabilitation must be certified as meeting the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (see "Historic Preservation Standards") by the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service.
Before beginning any work on a potential
tax credit project, it is best to contact the Vermont Division for Historic
Preservation to aid you in your planning.
You will need to document the existing condition of a property
thoroughly with photographs before any work is done. Gaining approval
from the Division of your plans before you begin will help ensure
that your project will qualify for the credit.
There is also a 10% federal tax credit for
substantial rehabilitation of non-residential income-producing
buildings built prior to 1936 that are not listed in the National
Register. No certification is required, but you should contact
a tax professional
to ensure that you claim the credit properly. The Division for
Historic Preservation can provide advice on how to do such a rehabilitation
while maintaining a building's important historic characteristics.
Technical Assistance Grants
The Preservation Trust of Vermont may award Barn Technical Assistance Grants as funding permits to plan for the preservation of barns and other agricultural outbuildings. There are no formal guidelines or application procedures for the grants and no set amount limit, although the awards are usually small. The grants pay for professional architectural, structural, and conservation assessments, usually of landmark buildings. For more information on the grants and how they might work for your building, contact the Preservation Trust of Vermont.
© 1995 Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. All rights reserved.
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