How do I help a threatened property?
Learn the facts about the threatened property. Knowing the answers to a few basic questions will help you determine whether to tackle the problem at the local level or enlist the aid of the SHPO.
- Who owns the property and who is making the decisions about its future?
- Is the property on the National
Register of Historic Places? Or has
it been designated as historically significant by a local heritage preservation
Unfortunately, National Register designation does not guarantee a property's preservation. The strongest protection is often at the local level, where demolition and building permits affecting locally designated properties must go through a local review process.
If the property has not yet been designated as historically significant, it needs to be evaluated. The significance of the resource will determine the level of effort warranted to save it. How do I find out about a property's history?
- What is the nature of the threat and what is the timetable for decision-making?
For historic properties threatened by a government action, state
and federal laws provide a measure of protection. Familiarize yourself
with the processes for public review and comment. Working within those
processes is your best defense. Make your voice heard.
- Is there local support for the property's preservation? Find other preservation-minded
people in your community and join forces in support of the threatened
property. Be creative and persuasive in making your case. And persevere.
Local groups have been especially effective in efforts to save buildings
owned by municipal and county governments.
- Have alternative uses for the property been thoroughly explored? Historic properties stand the best chance of being preserved when they are in use. The SHPO's Reuse Study model outlines a strategy for finding viable new uses for threatened and underused buildings. The process can buy some time and ensure input from an expert team of architects, historians and other specialists. Local governments may be willing to help fund a reuse study as part of their decision-making process.