California Preservation Foundation (CPF) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of California's diverse cultural and architectural heritage. Established in 1977, CPF works with its extensive network to provide statewide leadership, advocacy and education to ensure the protection of California's diverse cultural heritage and historic places.
CPF would be pleased to answer any questions you may have about donating to CPF. Please call 415-495-0349 for more information or visit our online Giving page of the site to learn more about making a gift.
CPF does keep a database of preservation consultants. However, we provide the information as a service to the public and do not necessarily endorse the consultants on the list. The list is intended to be used as a starting point for your own research.
CPF does not have grant money available for restoration projects. However, you can look into historic preservation tax credits and property tax incentives and limited grant funds available from the state or federal government or other non-profit organizations. Go toFind Funding to find information on tax incentives and grants.
CPF does not catalog photos, but many newspapers, local historical societies or history museums do. Check with your local historical or preservation organization as well as the California Historical Society (http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/).
If you are in a crisis or emergency situation and if you live in a community with a staffed historic preservation organization, contact that office first. Either of these types of groups can offer technical assistance and support and in some situations, they may also be able to provide you with information on the significance of the property and enlighten you on any local preservation ordinances or laws that may protect the structure. Go to our Preservation section of the website for more information and contact the Field Services Director for additional assistance.
Historic preservation is the practice of recognizing, protecting, using and appreciating our nation’s diverse cultural resources so that generations to come may benefit from them. Encompassing a wide range of resources—including houses, neighborhoods, commercial buildings, downtowns, bridges, churches, and public buildings —historic preservation is also an economic development tool that has proven to be an effective way to revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns.
Restoration and rehabilitation are two options available when preserving a property. During a restoration, the goal is to accurately depict the form, features and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time. To stay true to an era, features added during other periods in the structure’s history must be removed and missing features from the restoration period are reconstructed using all available evidence. Typically restoration is used only for museums. This approach often removes authentic, though not original, historic fabric and replaces it with new material that often includes guesswork on details.
On the other hand, rehabilitation makes possible a modern or contemporary use through repair, alterations or additions to a historic structure. This type of project preserves the significant features of the structure, which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values and features, including historic changes. This approach is generally preferred by preservationists because it preserves historic fabric from the course of the building’s history. Because it allows for contemporary or adaptive use, it is also the most prevalent preservation treatment.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 assigned the National Register of Historic Places the central role in recognizing buildings, sites, districts, structures and objects significant in national, state or local history, archeology, architecture, engineering or culture. Listing in the National Register does not guarantee full protection from demolition, but any development project using federal money or requiring a federal permit must undergo Section 106 review, required by the Historic Preservation Act, to consider the impact the project might have on nearby sites that are on or eligible for the National Register. Nominations to the National Register are submitted to and approved by the California Office of Historic Preservation and the Register is maintained by the National Park Service, but the vast majority of the buildings on the list are privately owned.
These terms are often confused, but each holds a different level of significance. Individual structures are listed on the National Register, but entire neighborhoods or areas can also be designated as a National Historic District. To qualify, the area must retain architectural integrity and reflect an aspect of the area’s history. A historical overview of the entire district is needed. The purpose of the overview is to provide a basic background history of the area and to justify the significance of the district. Historic resources survey documentation is required for all proposed districts, which involves photographing and mapping all buildings in the district, recording their architectural characteristics, and assessing whether or not they contribute to the historic character of the district.
The highest level of designation is a National Historic Landmark, and therefore specific criteria are used to determine a site’s eligibility. National Historic Landmarks are properties deemed significant to all Americans because of their exceptional values or qualities, which help illustrate or interpret the heritage of the United States. If a property is named a National Historic Landmark, it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and able to obtain federal historic preservation funding, when available. Only three percent of properties on the National Register are also Landmarks and they are usually owned by private individuals or groups; others are owned by local, state, tribal or federal government agencies. For more information, visit the National Park Service Web site.
A local landmark or historic district is designated under city or county ordinance that seeks to retain the character of the building or area. To receive local designation, a building or district must be historically, architecturally or culturally significant and retain most of its character. A historic preservation commission reviews and comments on projects affecting designated buildings. Under most local laws, owners of designated properties cannot demolish, move or change exterior features of the structure without permission from the preservation commission.
Similar to the National Register, the California Register of Historic Places is a form of recognition which makes individually listed structures eligible for state property tax incentives and provides for a review of some state-funded undertakings. The California Register is the official listing of historic resources for the state and is maintained by the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).
For information about National Register districts or listings in California, contact the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP). OHP nominates eligible properties in California to the National Register. For more information about the National Register, visit the National Park Service’s Web site.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) was enacted due to public concern that so many of the nation's historic resources were not receiving adequate attention as the government sponsored much-needed public works projects. The NHPA, strengthened and expanded by several subsequent amendments, is today the basis of America's historic preservation policy.
Section 106 refers to a particular part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 that requires every federal agency to take into account how each of its undertakings could affect historic properties.
Section 106 Review refers to the federal review process designed to ensure that historic properties are considered during federal project planning. The review process is administered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent agency, in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer. The council must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to comment on such projects. Any project involving federal funds is subject to Section 106 Review.
It is important to note that Section 106 Review extends to properties that possess significance and are determined eligible for listing on the National Register, but have not yet been listed.
Preservation tax incentives are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. A certified historic structure is any building that is listed individually in the National Register or located in a registered historic district and certified as historically significant to the district. A certified rehabilitation is any rehabilitation of a certified historic structure that is certified as being consistent with the historic character of the property and the district in which it is located. Property owners are eligible for a 20 percent tax credit on rehabilitation costs if all criteria are met.
To be eligible for tax incentives for rehabilitation, a project must meet the basic tax requirements of the Internal Revenue Codes as well as the certification requirements. Applications are processed by the California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and passed on with comments to the National Park Service for certification.
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