Preservation Easement Gifts

Donold Lourie was the first resident of 'Sconset to grant the Trust a preservation easement on his house at 22 Main Street.

Donold Lourie was the first resident of ‘Sconset to grant the Trust a preservation easement on his house at 22 Main Street.

The Trust accepts preservation easements (known as Historic Preservation Restrictions – HPR in Massachesetts) and will facilitate the process to create and complete a preservation easement approval within the scope of the laws of the state of Massachusetts.

What is a Preservation Easement?

A preservation easement is a legal agreement made between an owner of a historic property and a qualified easement holding organization such as the ’Sconset Trust. The easement protects the architectural integrity of the property by restricting future alterations and uses. Preservation easements (known as historic preservation restrictions under Massachusetts law) can protect both the exterior and interior of a qualifying property. In addition future ground cover and use of land surrounding existing structures will be defined in the agreement.

Why is it important to create a Preservation Easement?

As an owner of one of ’Sconset’s historic buildings, you are a steward of one of the Village’s greatest resources, its architectural heritage. By creating a preservation easement, you can protect your property’s historic features for future generations. Today a preservation easement is the best tool available to ensure the long-term integrity of a building as well as its place in the community.

In addition, an easement donation may be considered a tax-deductible charitable contribution for federal income tax purposes.

What properties are eligible for Preservation Easements?

Preservation easements are limited to historic structures or sites significant for their architecture, archaeology or associations in history. In Massachusetts, these include historically significant buildings, structures, landscape features, and archaeological sites and their settings listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. On Nantucket, over 2,400 structures are certified as contributing to the Island’s designation as a National Historic Landmark. The original designation defined historic structures as those built prior to 1900. These structures can qualify for preservation easements. Recently, the landmark designation of Nantucket island has been changed to include all structures built prior to 1955.

What elements are included in a Preservation Easement?

Each preservation easement is unique and tailored to the building and surrounding land and includes the needs of the property owner. It is a flexible tool that leaves the owner with full use of the property, but protects specific historic features forever.

Protected features include the building‘s exterior (already regulated by the Historic District Commission) with an option to include historic interior features such as structural members, space configurations, chimneys, plaster walls, floors, woodwork, and stairways. Where appropriate the easement can protect original and historic hardware, decorative finishes, and fixtures. The document is usually prepared to specifically exclude modern additions. 

What is included in the process?

Trust and the property owner start the process with educational and exploratory discussions. Both parties engage legal counsel to prepare and shepherd the document through the approval process. The Trust presents the preliminary document to the Nantucket Town Board of Selectmen prior to submission to the Massachusetts Historic Commission. Following review and acceptance these two governmental bodies provide final approval. Normally, a donation is made to the Trust to defray costs and be included in a legal fund to defend possible future legal review.