3 Ways to Fund Preservation of Your Historic Home

**(Please note: The Tower Heritage Center’s Rural Homestead and Small Town Preservation Grant Program has been discontinued. This post has been left in our line-up because it is now a matter of record in our organization’s institutional history.)

“Building preservation sounds expensive…” A phrase all too common when historic home owners, especially those new to owning a historic home.

Is owning a building that may be 75 years old or older a challenge to maintain? Sure, but so is a building built yesterday.

Today’s post will bring forward 3 ways to fund preservation for historic homeowners. So let’s dive in!

Preservation Funding Way #1 – Crowdsourcing

Most folks who own historic homes likely never considered this option, and maybe even ask as they read this, “what the heck is crowdsourcing?”

A quick explanation from our trusty Oxford Dictionary defines crowdsourcing as “the practice of obtaining information or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the internet.” 

For something like funding preservation of your historic home, you could tell the story of your property–its history, its significance, and how you are planning to preserve it–to solicit financial assistance (i.e. donations) from individuals who are actively using the internet. Two of the more popular platforms, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, provide individuals or organizations with avenues to present their project and spread the ask out to the world wide web. People interested in supporting the project or cause can then donate via the platform. 

Sounds too good to be true, right? 

Well, in some ways it’s much easier said than done. Projects need to be really of interest to individual givers…but that doesn’t mean yours won’t. It’s just ONE way to fund preservation of your historic home.

Preservation Funding Way #2 – Small, Personal Financing

While this sounds like a very traditional and obvious approach, it is still a viable option. Several lending institutions would be more than happy to sit down and discuss your goals to fund preservation at your historic home. 

BUT, because virtually nothing is free, you would be on the hook for said institutions terms and conditions. One of those would likely be paying interest on any funds borrowed

This leads me to explain our third option…

Preservation Funding Way #3 – Rural Homestead Small Town Preservation Grant

In January of 2023, the Rural Homestead Small Town Preservation Grant (RHSTPG) was launched to help owners of historic properties preserve their beloved buildings while saving our history. Win, win for everyone!

The grant program provides funds for a general preservation plan to be created, identifying 5 building elements that are architecturally significant to the historic nature of your building, AND crafting a general approach to address the needs of those 5 building elements. The general approach includes prioritizing the elements and providing a basic cost estimation. 

Granting dollars cover 50% of the cost of creating the general preservation plan. So, for example, if a general preservation plan normally costs $800, the grant would cover $400–that means you would only pay $400! Amazing, right!

But wait a minute…there’s more!

After creating the general preservation plan, awardees can then apply to have 50% of the cost of one of the projects described in the plan covered. That’s right…50% of the cost of one of the projects covered. 

While there are terms and conditions to the program, like being a member of The Tower Heritage Center, this granting opportunity for private historic homeowners is one of a kind.

Preservation grant application process in West Bend, Wisconsin
Click the infographic to enlarge

For more detailed information, visit the application on The Tower Heritage Center’s website.

PARTING WORDS

While funding preservation of your historic home can be daunting, there are options. Next time you, your neighbor, colleague, or acquaintance are struggling to figure out an approach, let them know that many ways exist. Let them know that they can even apply for a grant to fund preservation of their historic home.

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