Minnesota Local History

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Minnesota Local History Blog.

Advice and help with building history capacity.

The Minnesota Historical Society’s Local History Services helps Minnesotans preserve and share their history. This blog is a resource of best practices on the wide variety of museum, preservation, conservation, funding, and non-profit management topics. We’re here to help.

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Create a username for your organization's Facebook Page

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | April 7, 2021
Change your Facebook name

Why should I create a username for my Facebook Page?

Your username (aka page URL) is the link or address for your Facebook page. It is what shows up beneath your page name and in the address bar of your internet browser. It is to help people find and remember your Page. Ideally it should be a name that clearly says who your organization is.

Reasons for choosing a @username.

  1. A well-formed @username allows people to search and find you and your organization easily without a lot of hunting around.
  2. Having a @username makes it really easy for people to tag you in their posts and link to your Facebook page. 
  3. Lastly having a good @username will help your organization rank better in searches.

Don’t ignore this step. Having an appropriate @username for your page can make the difference between people finding your organization or not.
You want people to easily be able to search for your organization and using an obvious, straightforward name is one of the best ways to do that.

What to avoid naming your page:

  • @acme1858History - A name like that looks more like a weak password since no one will know it or remember it.
  • @HistoryIsFun - While history may be fun no one will associate the name with your organization unless your organization's name actually is "History Is Fun"
  • @AcmeCoHisSo - You get nothing out of abbreviating this way. No Search engine can find it and no one will ever remember it. You would be better off writing out the full name of your organization.
  • @AcmeCountyHistoricalSocietyMN - This actually is a good name to avoid confusion if your organization's name is very common like "Washington" or "Jefferson", "Franklin" or "Jackson" the four most popular county names. But if your organization's name is "Kandiyohi County Historical Society" it is a very safe bet you don't need to add the suffix "MN" to your name.

How do I create a username for my Facebook Page?

1. Click Create Page @Username below your Page's name.

2. Enter a username, then click outside of the composer.
FYI: Creating upper and lower case letters in your name (also called camel case) will help visually with your name.
However, for Facebook accounts, upper or lower case in the URL does not matter. Someone typing in "AcmeCountyHistory" or "acmecountyhistory" both are recognized.

3. If the username is available, click Create Username and you're done!

National Register Nomination: Why Get Listed?

By: Tamsin Himes | Local History | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | April 1, 2021

Image by Tamsin Himes

National Register Nomination: Why Get Listed?

Applying for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) can be a long process that often requires a significant amount of work and resources. Is it worth it? The short answer is that it depends on the building and its situation -- ownership, purpose, use, etc. But there are important benefits that can come with being listed. The purpose of this blog post is to highlight some of the benefits of being in the National Register and to give pointers for how to get started on the process of applying for nomination.

Funding. If you are at all involved with a historic building or historic preservation efforts, you know that funding is both scarce and essential, especially in the beginning stages of “saving” a historic building. Being listed in the National Register opens up opportunities for funding that otherwise would not be available, including the opportunity to apply for Legacy Grant funds. (Note: National Register listing is one of the requirements for eligibility for Legacy funds. Please see our website or Grants Manual for additional information and requirements.) 

History. The National Register nomination process requires extensive research into a property’s history, design, physical features, condition, and its use by the community over time. This is invaluable information that will be an asset to your community and organization for purposes beyond designation. History from these documents is often used for walking tours, interpretation, tourism brochures, etc. 

Prestige. Let’s be honest -- it makes a difference to the community or in the public eye if a property has been formally acknowledged to be historically significant. In some cases that can make all the difference between success and failure in preservation efforts. As a listed building, it may be easier to convince skeptics that the property is an important resource and asset to the community.

Preservation planning. Along with research that benefits your community/organization, the information about your property,  gained through the nomination application process, can be an invaluable resource when working to improve the longevity of the building by informing future preservation work.  

These are just a few of the benefits of listing in the National Register. So, is it worth it? In many, many cases it is. And we can help you get started! Check out this blog post for information about how we can help. 

Any questions? Shoot me an email at tamsin.himes@mnhs.org (or my colleagues at grants@mnhs.org). If you have questions specifically about the National Register listing process, contact the SHPO here

Sustainable Museum Lighting

By: Megan Narvey | Conservation | March 2, 2021

Museums becoming more climate-friendly is increasingly important in the field, because the effects of climate change pose a huge threat to collections. It may seem counterintuitive to pair collections care with environmentalism, but when it comes to museum lighting they really go hand in hand. Almost every action you take to reduce energy consumption from lighting will also help you to preserve the light-sensitive items in your collection. On top of that, any action you take that results in lower electricity bills means more money you can spend on other aspects of collections care, like archival boxes and padded hangers!

I recently attended an interesting webinar about environmental sustainability and museum lighting presented by David Saunders and hosted by the Icon Environmental Sustainability Network. He said that although the biggest energy consumer in most museums is the HVAC system, museum lighting represents a sizable chunk of electricity use. In his talk, David Saunders broke down sustainable museum lighting into five actions. 

  1. Switch to LEDs
  2. Increased use of daylight
  3. Reduce light levels
  4. Shorter display times
  5. Better time management

From left to right: incandescent, fluorescent, and LED light bulbs. Photo by Megan Narvey.

Switch to LEDs

Switching to LEDs has an immediate impact on electricity consumption because they are by far the most energy efficient type of light bulb; in large part because they are so efficient at converting electricity into light rather than heat (cough cough incandescents). Because LEDs have a longer life than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, there is also a reduction in the use of raw materials. 

LED lights emit little to no UV light, which is a huge benefit for the preservation of light-sensitive collections. So LEDs are a great lighting choice for many reasons: energy efficiency, lower long-term financial burden, less maintenance, and they’re better for collections. 

Increased use of daylight

This option might surprise many museum professionals! The argument here is that daylight is a free energy source, so it is completely environmentally friendly. The problem is that it’s difficult to control. The brightness, color, and direction of daylight varies depending on the time of day, the time of year, and clouds! 

Direct sunlight will quickly damage light sensitive objects, even with UV filtration. Therefore, you need control systems like shades, blinds, curtains or baffles; and you might need to change their position throughout the day. A really cool solution to this problem is the use of electrochromic glass (also known as “smart glass”), which darkens or clears automatically depending on the amount of sunlight hitting it. 

Reduce light levels

It’s important to limit the amount of light in museum display areas because light can damage many types of collection items. Lower light levels also benefit the environment! But there is only so much you can do to lower light levels before your collection becomes inaccessible because you can’t see it. It’s possible to create a space with very low light levels that is still functional - for example by featuring individual objects with spotlights. 

The use of dimmer switches is a simple way to increase your control over light levels. The sweet spot between preservation and visibility is 50 lux for highly light sensitive materials, and 200 lux for moderately light sensitive materials. Lux is a unit for measuring the amount of light in a square meter, and can be quantified using a light meter like this

Shorter display times

One way to achieve shorter display times that will benefit both the collection and the environment, without resulting in reduced access, is to use manual, timed or automated lights that respond to visitors. You can install proximity sensors that turn on the lights in an area when they sense movement, ensuring that the lights are off when nobody is in the room. Shorter display times can also be accomplished with an object case where the visitor presses a button to activate lights to view the contents for a set period of time.

Better time management

The final option can best be summed up by the old joke about dads running around the house turning off all the lights in unoccupied rooms. Ensuring that you turn the lights off in storage when you’re not working there, and turning the lights off when the museum is closed, can have a big impact. 

If you’re interested in learning more about environmental sustainability in museums, check out these organizations: 
Museums and Climate Change Network
AAM - Environmental Sustainability
Sustainable Museums
Sustainability in Conservation
Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice

Learn more about light as an agent of deterioration at the Canadian Conservation Institute.

To see more of David Saunders' work on museum lighting: 
Podcast: David Saunders on Museum Conservation and Lighting
Book: Museum Lighting - A Guide for Conservators and Curators

Updating your Microfilm Reader's computer to use Firewire

By: Joe Hoover | Tech Tips | February 17, 2021

Note: this blog post is an adaption of the solution provided by SpotImaging

Microfilm reader/scanner manufacturers discontinued using Firewire back as late as 2013 going forward with USB ports instead. This has begun to leave users of these old Microfilm reader/scanner machines with obsolete machines that are less than 10 years old.
Unfortunately, microfilm reader manufactures have been less than responsive with a solution to update their machines with some sales teams instead recommending complete replacement with a new and expensive machine. 

While Microsoft has officially discontinued support for Firewire (IEEE1394) with the introduction of Windows 10 OS, there is a workaround. 
It involves installing the legacy FireWire drivers into the Windows 10 OS. 
The procedure and links to the legacy drivers are provided below for your convenience.

The Fix for Windows 8 and 8.1 and for Windows 10
In Windows 8 and 8.1, plus Windows 10, Microsoft left out the Legacy driver. Just go to this page on the Microsoft Support page and download the Legacy driver. Then follow the installing directions on that same support page.

If you are running Windows 10, you will need to use the Windows 8/8.1 Legacy driver. So follow the same steps as for Windows 8/8.1.

Then Reboot your computer.
You will now be able to import video via the FireWire port on your computer.
If you are still having a problem after you have switched the FireWire driver to Legacy, then the problem may be with the FireWire port.

The fix is simple:

  1. Install a FireWire card into one of the open slots in the computer
  2. Using the instructions above, set the drive to Legacy.
  3. Reboot the computer.
  4. Then connect the FireWire cable from the video camera, into the new FireWire port that you just added.

Note: If you’re having a problem getting the FireWire port working on a Dell XPS 8100 or on a Gateway computer with the drivers from above. Get the driver.

If you have a Dell or a Gateway computer and the above fix doesn't work for you, then you might want to try the above link.
This fixes the problem most of the time. FireWire cards are not expensive; they run from $10  and up, depending on any extra features the card may have.

NOTE: Sometimes when Microsoft has issued certain updates, it can cause Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 to switch back to use the original 1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller driver. If you notice the FireWire device is transferring slowly or
not working, then just repeat the above steps and reinstall the Legacy driver.

Solution page to Win 8.1 & 10 OS support of Firewire cards:
3rd Party Work Procedure for Legacy FW Driver Install-WIN 10 OS

Collections Management Systems vs. Digital Asset Management Systems vs. Digital Preservation Systems

By: Joe Hoover | Information Technology | February 9, 2021

The following is a guest post by MNHS Digital Archivist Sarah Barsness.

Young man in black t-shirt juggling three pink balls labeled: CMS, DMC, and DAMS When it comes to creating and managing information about your collections, there are so many acronyms, software choices, and overlapping functionality that it can be difficult to know where to begin.  There are three main types of systems you need to know about: collections management systems, digital asset management systems, and digital preservation systems.  Some tools can do double- or even triple- duty, but each type of system can help you do a specific job.

Collections Management Systems are sneaky -- if you try to google “CMS,” you’ll also find customer and content management systems, which do very different tasks than what you need!  CMSs for libraries, archives, and museums, are built specifically to create, manage, and share information about your collections, but they usually don’t store digital copies of your collections themselves.  Most CMSs specialize in specific types of collections, such as museum object collections, library collections, or archives.  No matter the CMS, the goal is the same: create, organize, store, and share information about collections.

Digital Asset Management Systems, or DAMS, are almost the opposite of CMSs -- they store digital copies of your stuff, but are generally less robust when it comes to description and metadata.  Like CMSs, different products are often geared towards different use cases or different types of content.  One important thing to know about DAMS is that most function at the item level -- this works great if your collections are objects, but can be a problem if you have multipart collections (particularly common in archives).  Either way, a DAMS will help store your digital items, provide some level of information about them, and aid others in finding the digital item they want to see.

Finally, there are Digital Preservation Systems, often described as a digital archive or digital repository.  The goal of these systems is to manage your digital items on a technological level to make sure they’re accessible in the long term.  Functionality of these systems varies greatly and many tools are designed to do a single task, necessitating the use of several tools to create a system yourself.  Tools can check the integrity of each file in the system, help with backups, and even help migrate files to more stable preservation formats.

If you’re thinking about getting any one of these systems for your institution, it can be difficult to know where to start, but a few key considerations can help you narrow down your options:

  • What is my budget?
  • What is my level of IT knowledge/support?
  • How much time do I have to set up and customize a system?
  • What kinds of collections do I need to describe and/or share?
  • What kinds of information do I want to capture about my collections?
  • What functionality is most important to me?  What is least important?

Need more help or have questions about what might work best for you?  The MNHS Digital Archivist Sarah Barsness is available to help!  You can email her at sarah.barsness@mnhs.org


Funding: Non-Legacy Grants for Preservation Projects

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | February 3, 2021

All of us involved in heritage preservation are familiar with the mammoth amounts of effort and funding/resources required to keep a building or heritage asset in good condition, safe, and relevant. Finding these funding resources also can be a massive undertaking and it can often be confusing to know where to start in your search for grants and financial support. The Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants (MHCHG) program  – commonly known as the Legacy Grant program – is an incredible resource available for eligible organizations and projects here in Minnesota, and it’s a great place to start. But there are other resources out there that can also be valuable assets in your efforts to preserve history and heritage, and may sometimes be a better fit for your project or organization. 

This blog post lists some of those additional grants and resources. Most of these are directed specifically toward building preservation, but some are also available for a broader range of preservation projects such as interpretation, digitization, research, and collection conservation. 

You may notice that all of the grant programs below are specific to certain organizations or groups, and you might be wondering “What about private owners of historic buildings or historic private residences?”

This is tricky and there aren’t many (if any) grant programs that will fund preservation work on private residences -- even if the building is on the National Register. Normally grant programs have stipulations in place that require a degree of public benefit from the project that is funded by grant money. If you are looking for resources for a privately owned building, you may be more successful in researching tax credits/incentives and low-interest loans available for preservation work. This article has some good advice for privately-owned preservation projects. 

National Trust for Historic Preservation  “Grants from National Trust Preservation Funds (NTPF) are intended to encourage preservation at the local level by supporting on-going preservation work and by providing seed money for preservation projects. These grants help stimulate public discussion, enable local groups to gain the technical expertise needed for preservation projects, introduce the public to preservation concepts and techniques, and encourage financial participation by the private sector.” National Trust grant applications are available for eligible parties which include public entities, 501c3 organizations, and other non-profit organizations.

Certified Local Government Grants “Certified Local Governments may use these federal matching grants for local preservation projects. Funding comes from the Historic Preservation Fund, appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress; federal regulations require that the SHPO distribute to CLGs at least 10 percent of its allocation each year.” This grant through the State Historic Preservation Office does not fund construction/bricks and mortar projects but could be an ideal funding source for pre-construction work such as building reuse plans or historic preservation plans. As the name suggests, these grants are intended specifically for local government organizations. Find grant information here

Save America’s Treasures Grants “SAT funds the preservation, rehabilitation, and conservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections. Eligible properties must be either currently: 1) individually listed as a National Historic Landmark or be a contributing property within a National Historic Landmark district, or 2) individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places for national significance (properties listed at the state or local significance are not eligible) or be a contributing property within a nationally significant National Register Historic District. Properties include buildings, sites, structures, and objects.” Find grant information here

State Capital Projects Grants-in-Aid Eligible projects are publicly owned buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. “The work must meet the following conditions: 1) the expenditure funded must be for a public purpose; 2) the project expenditures funded must be for land, buildings, or other improvements of a capital nature; 3) the work must fall within one of the prescribed categories; 4) the project must correspond with the purpose for which funding was issued, as set forth in the bill citation on page one (Laws of Minnesota, 2014, Chapter 295, Section 12); and 5) the work must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.” Find more grant information here.

History of Equal Rights Grants “Funded through the Historic Preservation Fund, the History of Equal Rights grant program preserves sites related to the struggle of all people to achieve equal rights in America. The History of Equal Rights grants are not limited to any specific group and are intended to include the broadest possible interpretation of sites associated with efforts to achieve equal rights.” This is a yearly grant with an application deadline in December. Eligible parties include states, government entities, non-profits, and federally recognized tribes. Buidlings must also be on the National Register of Historic Places. Find grant information here.

African American Civil Rights Grants “The African American Civil Rights Grant Program (Civil Rights Grants) documents, interprets, and preserves sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens.” This grant program has one grant round a year, normally in late fall, and is open to a broad range of preservation projects, not just historic building preservation. Find more grant information here

Daughters of the American Revolution This may be a long shot, but if you happen to be a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, this grant is a great opportunity. “The DAR Historic Preservation Grants provide financial assistance for projects that preserve historic resources, sites, and other history-related projects. Examples include restoration of historic buildings; digitization or preservation of documents/records; preservation of historical items/artifacts; erection of new or rededication/relocation of existing historical markers; cemetery headstone and monument conservation, etc.” Find grant information here

Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program “The Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants Program is a new Historic Preservation Fund grant program created in fiscal year 2018 that supports subgrant programs that enable the rehabilitation of historic properties and rehabilitate, protect, and foster economic development of rural communities.” While this grant program is not accepting applications at the moment, it may be a good one to keep an eye on in the future. Find grant information here.

Jeffris Family Foundation “The Jeffris Family Foundation assists the development of historic sites for non-profit organizations in small towns and cities in the eight states of the Midwest: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan.” More information about eligibility and grant application deadlines can be found here

This is not a comprehensive list, but hopefully, it’s helpful as a starting point for researching opportunities for your organization and historic asset. As always, please contact us in the Heritage Preservation department if you have questions: grants@mnhs.org or tamsin.himes@mnhs.org

Fun Facts About Museum Pests: Silverfish

By: Megan Narvey | Conservation | January 20, 2021

The bane of archives, libraries, and paper-based collections everywhere: the silverfish!

In previous installations of Fun Facts About Museum Pests, I discussed carpet beetles and clothes moths, two common museum pests with similar life cycles (their larval forms cause the most damage to collections) and food preferences (proteins). Silverfish are completely different: they don’t have a larval stage. Instead, their young predecessors are called “nymphs” and they just look like smaller, translucent versions of adult silverfish. And rather than proteins, they like to munch on starches.


Silverfish are a wingless insect that can be up to 10-15 mm in length. Their bodies are easily recognizable as they are “carrot-shaped” and covered in silver or gray scales, with long antennae and three long tail-like bristles.

Detailed photo of an adult gray silverfish on a neutral background.

Adult gray silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata); Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org

Damage to cardboard by small blue silverfish (Lepisma saccharina); Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org


Silverfish are omnivorous and will eat both cellulose and protein materials. They are especially fond of the sizing of paper, and the glue and paste in book bindings. They are known to enjoy eating wallpaper, and the glue holding it to the wall. They will eat any material that has been treated with starch, gelatin, or organic dyes, including textiles like silk and cotton. They also eat microscopic mold on the surface of items. 

Silverfish have weak mandibles and feed on materials by scraping at the surface. This causes damage that appears as irregular thin patches on the surface, occasionally breaking all the way through to leave oddly-shaped holes with ragged edges. They will sometimes eat away preferentially at organic dyes, leaving an interesting trail of damage on labels, prints, or wallpaper, with some colors eaten first. 

Silverfish thrive in cool, damp, dark environments. Finding silverfish is a strong indicator that you have moisture problems - they’re most likely to be found in attics, basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Where there are silverfish, often there is also mold. 

You’re unlikely to see silverfish scampering across the floor. They prefer to lurk in cracks and crevices and behind walls. They’re nocturnal, and hide during the day or when the lights are on. If you come across silverfish at random in daylight, it means you could have a big infestation somewhere in your building.

Silverfish live as long as three years and will molt up to 50 times. They can live for nearly a year without feeding! Eggs will hatch after about a month, and the young spend about 3 months as nymphs before becoming adults. They multiply quickly!


Use sticky traps to monitor for a silverfish infestation. They can help you locate where the pests are entering an area, and help you keep track of the success of your preventative measures. You can also identify an infestation by looking for small dark frass, yellow stains, scales and the telltale signs of damage on paper. 

Because silverfish like the damp, the best way to rid yourself of a silverfish problem is to dry out your environment. If you can’t eliminate moisture, move your collections into a drier space to protect them. Keeping the room at a temperature below 60 degrees will also help slow silverfish down.

You can make it more difficult for silverfish to access collections items by keeping everything up off the floor on shelving, and by controlling food sources by removing cardboard boxes and paper products that are not part of the collection.

Use freezing treatment to kill silverfish and their eggs on artifacts. It can be difficult to completely eliminate a silverfish infestation. If monitoring indicates that you still have an issue despite taking preventative measures in your environment, you should work with a conservator and a pest management expert. Never put pesticides directly on your collection. 

Silverfish in his Christmas best. Art by James Hales, photo by Megan Narvey. 

I’ve been somewhat fond of silverfish ever since one of my grad school professors drew a picture of one in its “Christmas best” during a lesson. It's just so dapper!

Construction Documents and Construction Grants

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | December 15, 2020

This is one of a series of four blog posts about how to navigate the Legacy grant program. This post focuses on construction documents grants and construction grants. The first blog post in the series can be found here. Be sure and check out the graphic at the end of this post for a quick overview of the grant process. 

Construction Documents Construction documents comprise everything you need – designs, technical specifications, etc – to put your project out to bid in order to move forward with construction. Your next step is to obtain these documents. Normally this requires a large grant, though exceptions do exist depending on the size and complexity of the project. Since the architect that produced the Conditions Assessment has an in-depth understanding of the building and the needs of the project, often grantees choose to continue to work with this same architect for the production of Construction Documents. In this case, a grantee would present a pre-existing contract and describe the procurement process which was followed on the condition assessment. Continuing with the same architect is not a requirement, however, and grantees can choose to work with any qualified architect after going through the proper procurement process. 

While completing the application, be sure to include a photo file of the building and area of the proposed project. This is a required document, so if not included, the application will be sent back and you will be encouraged to re-apply in the next grant round. 

The process of a large grant for Construction Documents is similar to a Conditions Assessment: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement: the requirements for procurement for a large grant are more intense than for a small grant. You can find the requirements detailed on page 128 (Appendix I)  of the Grants Manual
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: these will vary depending on the project, but will always include 1) submission of the Schematic Design (this should be a 30% draft of the completed, final product); 2) submission of Design Development documents (a 60% completion draft); 3) submission of Construction Documents (a 90% competition draft). Additional milestones can include mortar testing, plaster repair techniques, window design reviews, and others. 
  • Final Report submission 
  • Closing out of the grant. 

Construction Now you’re ready to start the most exciting stage of your project: construction. Construction projects fall under the large grant category almost without fail. As a reminder, large grant application deadlines fall only once a year. Since the cost of construction is high, large grants are much more competitive than small grants. As with any application, small or large,your application must be well written, well throughout, clearly articulated, and of course, contain all the required documents. 

As with Construction Documents projects, it is up to the grantee whether or not to continue working with the same architect who produced the predevelopment documents. However, in many cases, it is advisable since the architect will already have a comprehensive knowledge of the building and project. It should be noted switching to a different architect at this point in the project is not simple and among other issues, architectural drawings normally cannot just be passed from one architecture firm to another. 

Construction grant process: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement: as noted above, grantees may choose to continue with the same architect by showing the pre-existing contract. If the grantee chooses not to continue with the previous architect, the procurement process must be followed before selecting an architect.
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: these will vary depending on the project, but will always include 1) construction site visit at 50% project completion. Additional milestones may be included when the grant is awarded. 
  • Final Report submission 
  • Closing out of the grant.

What next? You’ve successfully navigated the Legacy Grant process. This doesn’t mean that you have to be done though. After completing a full project, now you have the opportunity to consult your conditions assessment document, and the work priorities recommended there, to decide on another project to begin. After choosing, you can start by applying for another Construction Documents grant and follow that with a Construction grant application as you have previously done. This process can be repeated as long as there are preservation needs for your building. 

Ask us questions! I hope this explanation of the grant process has been helpful to you, whether you are new to Legacy grants or have extensive experience with the program. This blog post is one of a series of post explaining the grants process. If you haven’t already, take a look at the previous posts here. We at MNHS are always happy to guide you through any questions you may have. You can join us for one of our monthly open houses or you can contact us directly if you have any questions! 

Tamsin Himes, Design Reviewer: tamsin.himes@mnhs.org, Grants Office: grants@mnhs.org

Infographic: the Legacy Grant program

Applying for grants

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | December 15, 2020

If you haven’t already, go check out this blog post about the ins and outs of getting started with the Legacy Grant process. If you have already, this is the place to be! In this blog posts I’ll cover how grantees generally move through the Legacy Grant program. Be sure to take a look at the graphic at the end of this blog post. It gives a quick visual overview of the grant process. 

Grant applicants can apply for several different kinds of grants depending on the needs of the building and the stage of their project. In general, grants for historic buildings fall under one of three categories: Predevelopment Research Documents (this would be either a Historic Structure Report or a Historic Building Conditions Assessment); Construction Documents; and Construction. For each of these grant applications, certain required documents must be submitted with the application. Check out the Grants Manual for the specific requirements for each grant. 

As mentioned in the previous blog post an applicant may apply for any one of the three types of grants listed above, even if they have not completed the previous stages of preservation (Conditions Assessment and/or Construction Documents) through the grant program. This is acceptable as long as they have the required documents that must be included with the application.  Though it is not a requirement to move through the grant process exactly as outlined here, there are many benefits to starting at the beginning with the predevelopment documents and moving through the grants sequentially. 

Conditions Assessment Typically, a Conditions Assessment grant falls under the small request ($10,000 budget), but this depends on the size, type, and condition of your building. If a building is exceptionally large or for other reasons requires more analysis and care, then you may need to either apply for a large request for this step, or cover additional costs with your own match funds.  It is advisable to talk with multiple architects and obtain a few informal estimates before applying for a grant. 

Whether through a large or small grant, once awarded, the process for this grant will include these steps: 

  • Awarding of grant 
  • Procurement (the grantee is responsible for researching, obtaining bids, and choosing a historic architect for the project). 
  • Condition/Milestone reviews: milestone reviews can vary depending on the needs of your specific project, but will always include 1) submission of an outline of the report 2) submission of a draft of the report at 75% completion. Both of these and any other milestones set when the grant is awarded will be reviewed, commented upon and approved by the Grants Office. 
  • Submission and acceptance of the Final Report 
  • Closing out of grant 

For more details about Conditions Assessments and their purpose/importance, check out this blog post. 

After completing a Conditions Assessment First, congratulations! This is a major step in the preservation of your building and is the result of a lot of work, effort, and coordination by you, the architect, and the Grants Office. Using your Conditions Assessment as a guide, work with your organization, community, and stakeholders to plan your next steps in preservation. Normally the next step would be focusing on the most urgent work recommended by the architect. Once you’ve selected this, you’re ready to apply for your second grant and the next step in the grant process. Head on over to this blog post to learn more about Construction Documents and Construction grants.

Ask us questions! This blog post is one of a series of post explaining the grants process. The next one can be found here. We at MNHS are always happy to guide you through any questions you may have. You can join us for one of our monthly open houses or you can contact us directly if you have any questions! 

Tamsin Himes, Design Reviewer: tamsin.himes@mnhs.org, Grants Office: grants@mnhs.org 


Choosing the right grant

By: Tamsin Himes | Funding | Preservation & Facilities | December 15, 2020

If you haven’t yet, take a look at this blog post to understand more about getting started with the grants program. Also, be sure to check out the graphic at the end of this blog post. It gives a quick visual overview of the grant program. 

Now that you have determined that both your organization and your building are eligible and have an account, the next step is to find out which grant best fits the needs and situation of your building and organization. Legacy Grants are divided into two funding levels: small requests ($10,000 and under) and large requests (over $10,000). There are four small request “rounds” (or application deadlines) a year, and there is one large request round (deadline) a year. More information about deadlines and when to apply can be found here

Grant applicants can apply for several different kinds of grants depending on the needs of the building and the stage of their project. In general, grants for historic buildings fall under one of three categories: Predevelopment Research Documents (this would be either a Historic Structure Report or a Historic Building Conditions Assessment); Construction Documents; and Construction. For each of these grant applications, certain required documents must be submitted with the application. Check out the Grants Manual for the specific requirements for each grant. 

Side note: an applicant may apply for any one of the three types of grants listed above, even if they have not completed the previous stages of preservation (Conditions Assessment and/or Construction Documents) through the grant program, as long as they have the required documents that must be included with the application. However, if an applicant has an open predevelopment grant (Conditions Assessment or Historic Structures Report) they cannot apply for a grant for construction documents or construction for that same property until the grant is closed out. 

For the purposes of this blog, I’ll describe the process starting from the “beginning” -- with an application for a Historic Building Conditions Assessment. This is a formal document produced by a qualified Historic Architect that analyzes the current state of the building, documents areas of significance and historic fabric, and identifies and prioritizes necessary preservation work. A Conditions Assessment is a predevelopment document and a vital part of the preservation process. It is intended to give direction to years of preservation and planning for your building. Later grant applications and preservation projects will be based on the recommendations within this document. You can read more about conditions assessments in this blog post. 

The term “qualified Historic Architect” may be confusing at first. This just means that the architect hired to conduct a Conditions Assessment must meet the requirements set by the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. Those requirements can be found here

Finding a Historic Architect can also seem overwhelming at first, but the Minnesota Historical Society has a resource called the Preservation Specialist Directory to help you begin looking for one that fits your needs and the needs of your building. Note: the Preservation Specialist Directory is not comprehensive or curated. Architects and other professionals can essentially add themselves to the list. It is intended to be a starting point for researching preservation specialists and the professionals included in the directory are not endorsed by MNHS in any way. 

Pro tip: the Grants Manual is your friend! Take the time to read up on the grant you’re planning to apply for. I’m giving a brief overview here, but everything you need to know is spelled out in detail in the Grants Manual. Focus on General Information Section for setting up your account and the program's administrative requirements and the Historic Preservation Projects. No need to get bogged down in the History Projects sections when your focusing on your historic building.

If you’ve made it through this whole blog post, congrats! You’re ready to dive in and start your journey with the Legacy Grant program. After you’ve completed the steps outlined here, the next steps in the grant process are outlined in another blog post which can be found here. 

Ask us questions! This blog post is one of a series of posts explaining the grants process. The next one can be found here. We at MNHS are always happy to guide you through any questions you may have. You can join us for one of our monthly open houses or you can contact us directly if you have any questions.

Tamsin Himes, Design Reviewer: tamsin.himes@mnhs.org, Grants Office: grants@mnhs.org 

Infographic: the Legacy Grant program