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Technical Assistance Package
Historical Properties of Frederick County, Maryland

The purpose of the technical assistance package is to provide information and contacts needed to explore, research, preserve or restore historic buildings in Frederick County, Maryland.

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Financial Assistance Programs

Maryland Historical Trust- 410-514-7600

  • Capital Historic Preservation Grants- for the acquisition, rehabilitation and restoration of historic properties.
  • Non-Capital Historic Preservation Grants- For preservation activities, including research, survey, planning, education and archeology.
  • Certified Local Government Grants for historic site research, National Register nomination, community planning, public education, and preservation commission training.
  • Historic Preservation Loans to assist in the preservation of historic properties.
  • Rehabilitation Tax incentives to encourage the preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties and to develop local heritage areas.

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Preservation Maryland - 410-685-2886
Loans are available to non-profit organizations for purchasing and rehabilitating endangered historic properties. Loans range from $5,000 to $50,000.
Grants are available to non-profit organizations to assist in their efforts to preserve historic properties in Maryland. Grants range from $500 to $5,000 and generally require matching funds. Potential applicants should contact Preservation Maryland to discuss the proposed project and request an application.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation - 202-588-6000

  • National Preservation Loan Fund- Offers below market rate loans to non-profit organizations and public agencies for creation or expansion of local statewide preservation revolving loan funds, for site acquisition and for rehabilitation work. The goal is to help preserve properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • National Trust’s Preservation Services Fund- Available to non-profit organizations, public agencies and educational institutions for consultant services, preservation education, or co-sponsored conferences. Grants range from $5000 to$25,000.
  • Johanna Favrot Fund – Available to non-profit organizations, public agencies, for-profit businesses and individuals for consultant services, preservation education or co-sponsored conferences.

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Tax Incentives

Income Tax Credits for Rehabilitation - At the present time there are two separate programs that provide tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic properties. The two programs are the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program and the Maryland Heritage Tax Credit Program. While the two programs are similar, there are also major differences. The federal program applies only to income producing properties while the state program applies to income producing properties as well as owner occupied residential properties. Non-profit organizations cannot use the federal program but they can use the state program. The federal program has remained almost unchanged since it was revised in 1986. The state program has seen changes almost every year since it was introduced in 1997.

The first point of contact on both programs is the Maryland Historical Trust, the state historic preservation office. The Trust can be reached at 410-514-7600, or by e-mail. Always contact them for the most current information on both programs. Individuals should also consult their own tax professionals as to how the program might work best for them.

ELIGIBILITY: To qualify for the federal program the property must be individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, or be eligible for listing. Or, it must be a contributing building in a National Register Historic District or a local district that has been certified by the National Park Service. To qualify for the state program the requirements are the same except that the local district does not have to be certified and local designated properties may qualify. Also, contributing properties in a Maryland Certified Heritage Area are eligible. Contact your local tourism office to see if you are in a Certified Heritage Area. (Tourism Council of Frederick County - 301-228-2888)

All rehabilitation work must meet the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation to be eligible in either program.

For income producing properties, in both programs, the work must exceed the greater of $5,000 or the adjusted basis of the property. For owner-occupied properties the owner must spend a minimum of $5,000 in a 24 month period.

PROCESS: Both tax credit programs utilize a similar three part application process. Part One is a form that is filled out to provide an evaluation of the historical significance of the property.
Part Two is a form that allows for a detailed description of the proposed rehabilitation work and the estimated cost.

NOTE: Part One and Part Two should be approved by the Maryland Historical Trust, and the National Park Service for federal credits, BEFORE work starts.
Part Three is a request for certification of the rehabilitation work that has been completed as approved in Part Two. This part also must show the actual cost of the completed rehabilitation work.

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Federal Tax Incentives - Since 1976 the National Park Service, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service, and the state historic preservation office has encouraged the preservation of historic buildings through federal tax incentives that support the rehabilitation of these structures. By providing tangible links to the past this program is a successful and cost effective way to revitalize the community. The Preservation Tax Incentives reward private investment in rehabilitating historic properties such as rental, housing, and retail stores. The Preservation Tax Incentives also help create moderate and low-income housing in historic buildings. Through this program, abandoned or under used schools, warehouses, factories, churches, retail stores, apartments, hotels, houses, and offices throughout the country have been restored to life in a manner that maintains their historic character. The current tax incentives for preservation, established by the Tax Reform Act of 1986 include;

20% tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of certified historic structures (20% tax credit equals 20% of the amount spent on approved rehabilitation).

10% tax credit for the rehabilitation of non-historic, non-residential buildings built before 1936(10% tax credit equals 10% of the amount spent on approved rehabilitation).

The 20% tax credit applies to any project that the Secretary of the Interior designates a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. The 20% credit is available for properties rehabilitated for commercial, industrial, agricultural, or rental residential purposes, but it is not available for properties used exclusively as the owners' private residence.

A Certified Historic Structure is a building that is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, or a building that is located in a registered historic district and certified by the National Park Service as contributing to the historical significance of that district. The structure must be a building, not a bridge, ship, railroad car or dam. You may apply for certified historic structure status by filling out a Historic Preservation Certification Application, available online at with your state historic preservation officer. It is Part One of the Maryland Rehabilitation Tax Credit forms.

Certified Rehabilitation is when the National Park Service certifies that the rehabilitation is consistent with the historic character of the property and the district in which it is located. The National Park Service assumes that some alteration of the historic building will occur to provide for an efficient use. However the project must not destroy, damage or cover materials or features, whether interior or exterior, that help define the building’s historic character.

There are processing fees for reviewing applications. Please check with the National Park Service for further details.

To be eligible for the 20% rehabilitation tax credit, a project must also meet the basic requirements of the IRS code:

  • The building must be depreciable (must be used in a trade or business or held for the production of business).
  • The rehabilitation must be substantial. During a 24 month period rehabilitation expenditures must exceed the greater of $5,000 or the adjusted basis of the building and it’s structural components. The adjusted basis is generally the purchase price, minus the cost of the land, plus improvements already made, minus depreciation already taken. Once the substantial rehabilitation test is met, all qualified expenditures, qualify for the credit.
  • If the rehabilitation is completed in phases the same rule applies, except that a 60-month measuring period applies.
  • The property must be placed in service. The rehabilitation tax credit is generally allowed the taxable year the property is placed in service.
  • The building must be a certified historic structure when it is placed in service.
  • Qualified rehabilitation expenditures include costs associated with the work undertaken on the historic building, as well as architectural and engineering fees, site survey fees, legal expenses, development fees, and other construction related costs, if such costs are added to the basis of the property and are determined to be reasonable and related to the services performed. They do not include costs of acquiring or furnishing the building, new additions that expand the existing building, new building construction, or parking lots, sidewalks, landscaping, or other facilities related to the building.

Finally, it is important to apply as soon as possible- preferably before the beginning the work. Consult with the Maryland Historical Trust as soon as you can. Always wait until you are approved in writing to start the work. Be sure to photograph the house inside and outside- before and after the project. The NPS needs these photos to approve the work. Always check and follow the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation” and the “Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings”.

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State Tax Incentives

The Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Program, administered by the Maryland Historical Trust, provides Maryland income tax credits equal to 20% of the qualified capital costs expended in the rehabilitation of a “certified heritage structure.” Proposed work must be approved by the Maryland Historical Trust before any actual work may begin.

A certified heritage structure can include structures:

  1. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places;
  2. Designated as a historic property under local law;
  3. Located in a historic district listed in the National Register or in a local historic district and certified as contributing to the district's significance; or
  4. Located in a certified heritage area and certified as contributing to the area's significance.

The credit is available for owner-occupied residential property as well as income-producing property. The rehabilitation expenditure in a 24-month period must be substantial, exceeding $5,000 for owner-occupied residential property, and the greater of the adjusted basis of the structure or $5,000 for all other property. The rehabilitation must conform to the Secretary of the Interior's “Standards for Rehabilitation” and must be certified by the Maryland Historical Trust.

If the amount of the tax credit exceeds the tax liability of the taxpayer for the year in which the credit is first claimed, the excess credit may be applied for a period of up to 10 years. Additionally, if a rehabilitated structure is sold, the amount of any unused credit may be transferred to the new purchaser. The credit may also be combined with local and federal incentives for the rehabilitation of historic property. For more information or to request a Heritage Preservation Certification Application, contact the Maryland Historical Trust's Office of Preservation Services at 410-514-7627 or 410-514-7628 or go to their website to obtain the forms.

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Local Rehabilitation Tax Credits

Local property tax credits are available for the rehabilitation of homes as well as income-producing designated historic buildings in a growing number of jurisdictions. They are typically provided either as an offset of property taxes owed by a percentage of the rehabilitation expenditure (up to ten percent) (see property tax credit contact information below), or an amount equal to the increase in property taxes resulting from the rehabilitation improvements for a period of up to ten years (see tax assessment freeze contact information below).

Property Tax Credit
Frederick County
Contact: Janet Davis,
12 E. Church Street, Frederick, MD 21701, 301-696-2958

Tax Assessment Freeze
City of Frederick

Contact: The Preservation Planner,
City Hall, 101 N. Court Street, Frederick, MD 21701, 301-694-1792

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Maryland Historical Trust Easement Program

Historic preservation easements are significant tools for the preservation and protection of historic structures (both exterior and interior), archeological sites and historic landscapes. The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) has been acquiring historic preservation easements since 1969 and holds more historic preservation easements than any other organization in the country. The purpose of a historic preservation easement is to limit alterations to historic properties to ensure their preservation and to protect them from demolition. The easement is a legally binding agreement (recorded in land records) between the owner of a property and the Trust that provides for the protection of the property through affirmative maintenance provisions and by MHT oversight of any changes and alterations to the property in perpetuity. MHT staff regularly inspects easement properties to ensure compliance with the easement.

MHT easement properties range from a 17th century meeting house to a 1957 residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright to covered bridges, boats such as skipjacks and the U.S.S. Constellation, lighthouses, log structures, mills, schoolhouses, archeological sites, individual row houses, and a 2,000 acre estate. Currently, MHT holds easements on almost 500 properties covering 9,500 acres.

MHT acquires easements through state property transfers, federal and state capital grants, loans, state bond bills, and donations. The Maryland Historical Trust will only accept easements on properties listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. There are favorable tax consequences for the donation of an easement on a property listed in the National Register or located within a certified historic district.

For more information, contact Nicole Diehlmann, Easement Program Administrator,
at 410-514-7625.

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The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior is responsible for establishing standards for all national preservation programs under Departmental authority and for advising federal agencies on the preservation of historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation address the most prevalent historic preservation treatment today: rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is defined as the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.

The Standards that follow were originally published in 1977 and revised in 1990 as part of Department of the Interior regulations (36 CFR Part 67, Historic Preservation Certifications). They pertain to types, sizes, and occupancy and encompass the exterior and the interior of historic buildings. The Standards also encompass related landscape features and the building’s site and environment as well as attached, adjacent or related new construction.

The Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.

A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.

The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.

Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.

Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.

Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.

Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical or pictorial evidence.

Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.

Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.

New additions, exterior altercations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.

New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

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Historic Preservation Standard Definitions

Based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties these guidelines can help you maintain the historical integrity of your property. The way in which we treat historic properties today can have a great impact on how future generations interpret the work of our restoration efforts.

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Treatment Options

Preservation treatment places a high premium on the retention of all historic fabric through conservation, maintenance and repair. It reflects a buildings continuum over time through successive occupancies, and the respective changes and alterations that are made.

  • Use the property as it was used historically or find a new use that maximizes retention of distinctive features.
  • Preserve the historic character (continuum of property’s history).
  • Stabilize, consolidate, and conserve existing historic materials.

Rehabilitation emphasizes the retention and repair of historic materials, but more latitude is provided for replacement because it is assumed the property is more deteriorated prior to work.

  • Use the property as it was used historically or find a new use that requires minimal change to distinctive features.
  • Preserve the historic character.
  • Repair deteriorated historic materials and features. Replace a severely deteriorated feature, using to the greatest extent possible, matching new materials.
  • New additions and alterations should not destroy historic materials or character. New work should be differentiated from the old, yet compatible with it.

Restoration focuses on the retention of materials from the most significant time in a property’s history, while permitting the removal of materials from other periods.

  • Use the property as it was historically or find a new use that reflects the property’s restoration period.
  • Remove features from other periods, but document them first.
    Stabilize, consolidate, and conserve features from the restoration period.
  • Replace a severely deteriorated feature from the restoration period with a matching feature.
  • Replace missing features from the restoration period based on documentation and physical evidence. Do not make changes that mix periods and falsify history to create a hybrid building.
  • Do not execute a design that was never built

Reconstruction establishes limited opportunities to re-create a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure or object in all new materials.

  • Do not reconstruct vanished portions of a property unless the reconstruction is essential to the public understanding.
  • Reconstruct to one period of significance based on documentary and physical evidence.
  • Precede reconstruction with thorough archeological investigation.
  • Preserve any remaining historic features.
  • Recreate the appearance of the property (substitute materials may be used).
  • Identify the reconstructed property as a contemporary re-creation.
  • Do not execute a design that was never built.

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Preservation Consultants

The Maryland Historical Trust maintains a list of Preservation Consultants. The list includes preservation specialists who have expressed an interest in working on projects in Maryland. Nearly 50 areas of special interest are covered. Consultants are listed in alphabetical order by the state in which they are located. Maryland firms are also organized by county to assist in locating consultants in your area. Consultants are divided into 22 categories according to the professional services they provide. Some of the categories are:

Archeologist-Terrestrial Materials Conservator
Archeologist-Underwater Materials Supplier
Architectural Historian National Register Consultant
Building/Renovation Contractor Object Conservator
Craftsperson Oral Historian
Cultural Historian Preservation Consultant
Engineer Real Estate Planner/Appraiser
Historical Researcher Surveyor
Interior Designer Tax Credit Consultant
Landscape Architect Other Related Professions

These listings are updated several times each year.

Local Historic Preservation Commissions often also maintain files of local historic preservation specialists that have contacted them. None of these lists are to be considered as recommendations of the quality of the work. However, most lists do contain references that can be contacted.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can Frederick County Landmarks Foundation do for a new historic homeowner?
Frederick County Landmarks can help assist new historic homeowners in assessing the historic value of their property. We will help connect you to the necessary resources to restore or rehabilitate your historic home.

What makes a home historic?
Does your house have significant character, interest or value as a part of the heritage of the county, state or nation? Did an historic event take place on the property? Does it represent the work of a master craftsman, architect or builder? Is it a rare example of a particular period, style material or construction technique? Does it reflect the cultural, economic, social; or political history of Frederick County? Does it possess significant artistic value? Can your house be identified with a person or group who influenced society?

If indications are that you have a historic house where can more research be done to confirm it?
First you can go to County Courthouse,100 West Patrick St. and look at the deeds to the house and any history (names, dates, etc) those deeds contain. Then you can go to the Historical Society Library, at 24 East Church St. (301-663-1188) and research names (of the owners or the house itself) and important dates. The Maryland Room at the C Burr Artz Library (301-631-3764) has additional information on local history. The Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission has the most up-to-date information on many historic properties in the county.

Why would I want a Frederick County Landmarks Foundation Plaque on my house?
If you have pride in the historic preservation you have accomplished in maintaining the historical integrity of your house or you would like to increase the real estate value of your property, Frederick County Landmarks Foundation offers historic landmark plaques to structures built over 100 years ago to recognize and document the historic structure. To apply call 301-668-6088. Frederick County Landmarks Foundation also offers vernacular plaques to encourage the restoration preservation of 20th century unique structures that make a significant contribution to our county.

What is an Endangered Site?
An Endangered Site is an historic, cultural or natural site in the county that is in danger of being destroyed by neglect, development, or natural deterioration. Each year Frederick County Landmarks Foundation releases a “Most Endangered Sites List” to raise awareness and work towards saving and protecting these important landmarks. Anyone can nominate a historic, cultural or natural site throughout the year just call 301-668-6088 or email pertinent information to info@fredcolandmarks.org.

What are Smart Codes?
The State of Maryland has adopted a set of building codes designed especially for historic buildings. Established in July of 2001, it makes the restoration of historic houses easier because it is based on maintaining historical integrity in addition to safe building codes. Information about the codes can be obtained on the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development web site.

I am interested in tearing down an old house to build a new house what should I do first?
First call the Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission at 301-696-2958 and talk to Janet Davis about your plans. If you are in the Historic District of the Frederick City call city’s Historic District Commission at 301-694-1792 for advice.

Contact the Historic District Commission of Frederick or the Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission for a consultation on any destruction of any historic buildings on your property. They will inform you of any restrictions and the laws that apply to historic properties.

How do I get involved in the effort to save historic landmarks?
You can write, call or email Frederick County Landmarks Foundation and volunteer your time. There are many skills needed to continue this effort and we do need your help. We need help to do all the work of the organization, as well as to create reports on the projects and events we are working on. We also need funds to “keep the lights on,” to keep the computers up and running, to keep the information on our website current, to be available to help individuals learn about and to preserve local history and to put on educational programs for all ages. Please contribute your time AND your financial support.

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