Resources to Begin Using Historic Preservation in Your Community

Example of historic preservationIndividuals and communities don’t have to “go it alone” when they begin preservation work. The State of Delaware and the Federal government offer many resources that enable and encourage the practice of historic preservation. In addition, each county and the City of Wilmington have preservation planners on their staffs that can provide expertise and advocate for the protection and appropriate treatment of historic properties. Utilizing these resources can improve the quality of preservation efforts and may also provide financial incentives.

State Historic Preservation Office and Certified Local Governments

The State of Delaware offers many resources to individuals and communities practicing historic preservation. The Delaware State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) works as a liaison between the federal government and Delaware residents to protect historic places that could be adversely affected by projects carried out by federal agencies. The State Preservation Office is also responsible for determining which properties in Delaware qualify for the National Register of Historic Places through its state review board. Local governments that recognize the importance of historic preservation and its role in creating sustainable, economically-viable communities are encouraged to pursue Certified Local Government (CLG) status. The CLG Program strengthens preservation efforts at the local-level by providing technical and financial assistance, while encouraging successful preservation programs and practices. CLGs may apply for grants to pursue various historic preservation-related projects and programs. Delaware’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program assists in preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings throughout Delaware. These state tax credits help offset the cost of preservation for homes and historic places listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

State Historic Preservation Plan and Resources

The Delaware SHPO has published Preserving our Past for a Better Future: Delaware’s Historic Preservation Plan, 2013-2017.  The five goals and related strategies within the plan should be considered by local jurisdictions when updating and amending their comprehensive plans. The plan also outlines several programs and incentives to identify and preserve historic properties. Preserve America, a federal program administered by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP), has recognized three Delaware communities for their efforts to preserve their cultural and natural assets. The Preserve America matching-grant program provides planning funding to designated Preserve America Communities to support preservation efforts through heritage tourism, education, and historic preservation planning. The National Main Street program also incorporates preservation values in program initiatives. DelDOT’s Byway Program is another tool that communities use to develop heritage tourism.

Federal Government Resources

The Federal government also provides resources that help communities begin using historic preservation. The General Services Administration is home to the Center for Historic Buildings, which focuses on design solutions and building investment techniques that are in keeping with The National Historic Preservation Act. Their work in turn benefits all of those seeking to renovate a historic structure without damaging its character. The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services also offers advisory services to preservationists. The National Park Service administers federal tax credits for preservation work as well.

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