This week two articles appeared in the Washington Post, reporting on the value of historic homes and how some home buyers are anxious to own a architectural piece of the past. This is particularly true in American cities with Colonial, Antebellum, or Civil War roots.
As one realtor explained: “We research the history of the house and provide it to potential buyers, if they are interested. There’s a difference between promoting the history and making it available upon request.”
There are challenges to selling, purchasing, renovating, or preserving a historic home – including the older architecture style, occasional the lack of amenities, or old style electrical wiring or plumbing. However, some states and communities offer incentives (like tax breaks) to encourage or require home owners to preserve aspects of the structure, usually including certain exterior appearances.
Who’s buying historic homes? Well, the articles focused primary on Old Alexandria, Virginia, and the realtors say, “We market historic homes to people who buy antiques through Sotheby’s, to members of groups with an interest in history and internationally, too.”
The week’s articles focused on a more elite market, but other communities across the country are reaching out to home or property owners in all income levels. For example, recently the Temecula Valley Historical Society had cause for rejoicing. The historically-minded Californians in this town had long anticipated their local government passing The Mills Act, which is an economic incentive program in the state “for the restoration and preservation of qualified historic buildings by private property owners” particularly in the form of tax abatement. Other states and local governments are exploring similar programs.
The growing interest in homes (or even office space) with a story may be a positive step for historic preservation connected to Civil War history. Though communities have certainly witnessed the destruction of historic structures to make way for new complexes, perhaps a growing interest and some of the restrictions and incentives will allow historic buildings to stay part of a city’s story and scene.
We’d love to hear from you on this topic!
- Do you live in a historic home or neighborhood? (Does not have to be just Civil War related)
- Does your community or state offer incentives to preserve a historic structure?
- Do you find restrictions on some renovation restrictive?