Heritage Preservation / SHPO / Disaster Planning / Flood Recovery - 2012 Historic Preservation Assistance

State Historic Preservation Office

Flood Recovery: Historic Preservation Assistance

Flooded Volvo in front of Fitgers - Duluth
Photo: K. Praslowicz

Deadline: February 15, 2013

Historic buildings are among the tragic losses resulting from weather-related disasters. The Minnesota Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) will administer $250,000 in state funding for flood relief to assist historic properties damaged by this summer's flooding in Minnesota. This money is available to owners of affected historic properties who have exhausted other sources of disaster assistance. Other kinds of historic resources damaged by the flooding may also be eligible for assistance, including collections and archives.

The SHPO is accepting pre-applications to help applicants determine if individual properties will meet the eligibility criteria. Property owners may submit requests for pre-application screening at any time by sending a completed pre-application form with photos of the storm damaged property.

Flood Recovery Form (PDF) | Printable Documentation (PDF)


What properties are eligible for assistance?
To be eligible for historic preservation assistance, properties must be listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Contributing resources within National Register-listed, National Register-eligible, or locally designated historic districts will also be considered. In order for rehabilitation work to qualify, the work must meet Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. The SHPO will offer advice regarding rehabilitation of the historic property to ensure that appropriate preservation treatments are followed.

Who is eligible to apply?
Eligible applicants include homeowners, commercial property owners, owners of rental residential property, units of government, and nonprofit organizations within the Minnesota counties and tribal areas covered by federal disaster declaration DR-4069. This includes the counties of Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Dakota, Goodhue, Itasca, Kandiyohi, Lake, Meeker, Pine, Rice, Sibley, St. Louis, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe - please see map (PDF).

What kind of financial assistance is available?
The historic preservation assistance is gap funding in the form of a grant. Applicants must document other forms of disaster assistance sought and exhausted. This could include homeowners or flood insurance, FEMA assistance, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration, or other local, state, or federal disaster assistance program. Additional information on available disaster resources can be found at the Minnesota Recovers website.

What are the funding limits?
The maximum grant available for most historic properties is $15,000; the cap for properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places is $30,000. For special circumstances, applicants may request consideration for assistance in excess of the maximum. Funding assistance may also be available for other kinds of historic resources damaged by the flooding.

The Individual Application Process:

  1. The applicant submits the pre-application form and photos to the SHPO for review.
  2. SHPO reviews the pre-application to determine if property is historic. SHPO notifies the applicant of its determination regarding eligibility.
  3. If the property is eligible for assistance, the applicant works with the SHPO staff to prepare a scope of work, which must be approved by the SHPO Historical Architect.
  4. The applicant obtains two cost estimates for the work, submits the estimates to SHPO, and confers with SHPO to determine the amount of gap funding available. The following are needed to make a preliminary determination:
    • an approved scope of work
    • two estimates for work
    • information about insurance
    • information about status of requests to other disaster assistance programs (if applicable)
  5. Agreement documents are prepared and executed.
  6. The applicant obtains official bids for the approved scope of work and selects contractor.
    The contractor signs the approved scope of work. The SHPO Historical Architect must approve any modifications in the approved scope of work.
  7. Work commences. The applicant and their contractor are encouraged to consult with the SHPO while work is in progress. SHPO may conduct site inspections.
  8. The work is completed, inspected and approved by SHPO staff and signed off on by both the property owner and contractor.
  9. The funds are disbursed following progress and final inspections, as described in the executed agreement documents.

For technical assistance and preliminary funding information:
Leslie Coburn, Government Programs and Compliance Technician
State Historic Preservation Office
Minnesota Historical Society
345 Kellogg Boulevard West
St. Paul, MN 55102-1906
email: leslie.coburn@mnhs.org
Phone: (651) 259-3457
Fax: (651) 282-2374


Historic properties are especially vulnerable to storm damage due to their prominence of location, distinctive design, and fragile materials. Unless assessment and remedial action are taken immediately, these resources will be lost, as they are truly irreplaceable. While the situation may seem discouraging at first, with careful planning and sensitive attention, even severely damaged properties may be returned to their former quality.

When disaster occurs, it is important to remember not to make hasty decisions. As we admire these properties for having "stood the test of time", it is imperative that we must take time and seek guidance in making critical decisions about their future. Owners of properties should consult architects, engineers, and experienced contractors during the decision-making process. Structural damages and conditions affecting safety must receive first consideration. Remove hazards from fallen trees and power lines immediately, taking care to retain as much of the pertinent materials to the property as possible.

Tip #1: Thoroughly check for damage to the foundation, structural walls, and roof. Bracing and temporary supports should be added to any structural members that are unstable - joists, beams, studs. Damaged roof deck, joists, and rafters can be reattached where possible, or removed and replaced if necessary. Damaged chimneys should be stabilized if possible; if removal is necessary, salvage bricks that can be reused.

Tip #2: Make the building weathertight! Water infiltration can do serious damage to a building. Use plastic tarps, plywood, and other materials to keep out the elements.

Tip #3: Allow for some natural ventilation for drying out the interiors of buildings that have sustained water damage. Do not use heaters. Use of heaters can cause additional damage, especially to wood elements such as flooring, trimwork, paneling, and wood ceilings.

Tip #4: Save any architectural details or features - even if they don't belong to your building! Elements from other buildings might have blown on to your property, and the owners of those elements would appreciate your help! Barge boards, finials, and other decorative elements should be retained if at all possible; even if these elements cannot be reused, they can be used as templates for duplication. Secure the building to discourage vandalism or removal of interior decorative features.

Tip #5: If possible, take photographs of the building's condition before and during the process of evaluation and rebuilding.

Tip #6: Complete a Damage Assessment. Such an assessment helps to understand the various materials that make up the building (i.e., brick veneer on wood stud framing; stucco finish on brick; interior plaster; wood floors; etc.), and the types of damage that have occurred to these materials (i.e., missing brick veneer; cracked stucco; interior plaster damage; buckled wood floors; etc.). Assessment tools are available through the State Historic Preservation Office.

Tip #7: Don't hesitate to ask for help! The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is prepared to provide assistance. See contact information on the previous page.