Historic Preservation Funding from the Preservation League of NYS
Founded in the 1970s by preservationists from across New York State, the primary goal for the Preservation League of NYS was to ensure that preservation had a centralized voice for the entire state. Today, Preserve NYS works with individuals, organizations, and municipalities to support historic preservation projects and strategically invests in rehabilitation projects through two signature grant programs Preserve New York (PNY) and Technical Assistance Grants (TAG).
“A big part of our mission is helping to influence policy that ensures that historic preservation always has a seat at the table, especially when it comes to economic development,” said Janna Rudler, Grants and Technical Services Manager. “The League’s mission goes beyond advocacy though… we champion projects that show the essential role of preservation and community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, protection of our historic buildings, and historic landmarks.
Preserve NYS supports its mission through a number of programs including technical services, educational programs, outreach, webinars, and working with colleague organizations like municipalities or local preservation groups such as Preservation Association of the Southern Tier (PAST), Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY), Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and Preservation Long Island. “We work with our colleagues across the state to make sure that they are empowering people in their communities to help save their historic buildings,” said Rudler.
There is also an Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards program that highlights projects, organizations, publications, and individuals that exemplify best practices in historic preservation. Awards are considered based on level of statewide significance, impact on underrepresented communities or overlooked history, effective solutions to current preservation issues, degree of difficulty faced, level of impact on the community, region or state, display of collaborative efforts, and design sensitivity to the historic character and fabric of the property. Previous award winners include the Graycliff-Isabelle Martin House, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, the New York Botanical Garden, and the Albany Housing Authority’s rehabilitation of houses in Albany’s South End and Arbor Hill neighborhoods, including providing administrative space for the Albany County Historical Association.
Preserve New York (PNY)
Preserve New York provides grant funding for historic structure reports, building condition reports, cultural landscape reports, and cultural resource surveys. Applicants must be a unit of local government or a non-profit organization with tax-exempt status.
Grants made provide support for up to 80% of the total project cost; usually between $3,000 and $10,000.
Technical Assistance Grants (TAG)
Technical Assistance Grants provide support for consulting projects that will preserve cultural and historic resources. TAG supports professional services including architects, engineers, and other preservation specialists working with non-profit organizations and municipalities to preserve their buildings, structures, and other resources that serve an arts and/or cultural function.
Grants are up to $4,000 with a required 20% project cost match.
“Both grant programs focus on preservation planning,” said Rudler. “These are grants that help provide technical assistance and guidance on saving buildings. Both grants are intended to pay consultant costs to produce studies that help an organization see its way forward with their building if they’re not sure where to begin.” Rudler also said that these grant programs are helpful to organizations that know that something needs to be restored or preserved but are not sure who to contact. “Preserve NY can provide an architect or engineer that has a preservation background who can ensure any work done will preserve the historic integrity of the building.”
TAG was launched in 2012 to support specific projects that preserve NYS cultural and historic structures. “Our Technical Assistance Grants are a little smaller in terms of awards and they cover discrete projects relating to buildings and looking at specific issues,” said Rudler. “For instance, building condition surveys that look at a particular condition that a building is facing like windows or roofs.”
Buildings do not have to be listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places to qualify for either grant program but the review panel does consider the architectural and/or historical significance of the building as part of the application evaluation process.
Both grants are partnership grants. “Our primary funder for these grants is the New York State Council on the Arts,” said Rudler. “NYSCA partners with us because they want to provide money for historic preservation but they like having the professional, vetting, and oversight that the Preservation League provides.”
The Preservation League of NYS also received funding from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to support non-profit organizations on Long Island. “The Gardiner Foundation has supported PNY grants since 2017 but in 2020 they began providing funding for TAG for Long Island.” In addition, TAG also receives support from the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (Hudson River Greenway).
“These preservation planning grants can help leverage larger capital grants down the road,” said Rudler. “For example, if you’re applying to the Environmental Protection Fund or through the NYS Consolidated Funding Application, having a Preservation League grant-funded preservation study done first can give you a leg up because the state will see that you have done the preparation. So our grants have helped a lot of organizations. They start with a Preservation League grant and the resulting document and guidance helps them fundraise, apply for other grants, and lends credibility to their project.”
In 2021, 32 applicants in 25 counties received a total of $297,996 in Preserve New York grants. Grant-funded projects include a historic landscape report at Quarry Farm on the outskirts of Elmira, a building condition report for the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society–built in 1882 and the oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario, and the Science Museum of Long Island’s Norwood House & Carriage House, and Leeds Pond Preserve. The building condition report helped inform and reorganize building space use, catalyzed preservation and restoration capital projects, and supported their plans to integrate the Leeds Pond Preserve into a museum campus.
Advice for Prospective Applicants
“The first thing that I like to tell people is that our grants are fairly easy to apply to,” said Rudler. “We’re guided by the NYSCA application process but our process is a little more streamlined because these grants are so specific.” Preserve NYS also offers webinars to learn more about what the grants fund, what kind of eligibility is required, and general application tips. There are also a series of help sessions offered over Zoom that provide one on one help.
“We really like to provide a lot of support along the way. These grants are often the first grants that an organization applies for because they are the basis for larger grants later on.” Preserve NYS also provides a list of consultants that successfully completed grant-funded projects. “Applicants can access this list and that can help them choose the right consultant, especially if they don’t know where to start.”
Pre-applications are now open for the 2021 Technical Assistance grants.
Pre-application deadline: Monday, October 11, 2021
Grant application deadline: Friday, October 15, 2021
Learn more about the Preservation League of NYS grant opportunities: https://www.preservenys.org/grants
Learn more about previously funded projects: https://www.preservenys.org/pny-recipients