Resources for Historic Property Owners

There are several good sources of information regarding preservation work on your private house or building. Unfortunately, the State of Massachusetts does not offer any loans or funds for property owners undertaking this work. The resources listed here are just suggestions, and this is not an endorsement of any specific contractor or company.

How do I know if my home is historic?
The Framingham Historical Commission has compiled a Cultural Resources Inventory that documents the many historic resources in the town of Framingham. The inventory is periodically updated with new historic resources and information. Staff within the Community and Economic Development Division can tell you if your property is in the Cultural Resources Inventory. If it is, there will also be an inventory form for your house that tells about its history and architecture.

National Park Service
The National Park Service is the federal department charged with promoting preservation in the United States. While their site is more technical, it is a good resource for preservation practices and standards. They are also charged with administering the National Register of Historic Places. There are several buildings in Framingham individually listed in the National Register, as well as several districts that include multiple properties. It is important to note that National Register listing is largely honorary, and provides few tangible protections for buildings.

Historic Preservation Tax Incentives
There are tax credits available at both the state and federal level for historic rehabilitation projects on income-producing properties. Information on the state program can be found here, while information on the federal program is located here.

Massachusetts Historical Commission
The state historic preservation office in Massachusetts is the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC). The commission helps municipalities with preservation issues, oversees the National Register of Historic Places program in the state, and helps municipalities undertake surveys to document historic buildings.

MHC also offers the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), a 50% reimbursable grant program open to municipalities and non-profits. The grants are critical to providing support for “bricks and mortar” projects on historic buildings owned by organizations that often have tight funding. More information on the MPPF program can be found here.

Preservation Massachusetts
If you are looking for someone to perform a specific kind of work and want a contractor familiar with historic buildings, Preservation Massachusetts’ Consultant Directory is a good place to start. (Please note that listing in the directory is not an endorsement by Preservation Massachusetts – you should do your due diligence and request references and work samples from prospective contractors.)

Historic New England
Historic New England is a private, non-profit organization with a number of historic properties throughout New England. They have several general resources on their site regarding style, paint color, and a comprehensive glossary of preservation terms. Because one of the most important parts of being a historic homeowner is maintaining your historic building, they also include a suggested maintenance schedule. For those homeowners who are considering undertaking a significant amount of appropriate restoration on their property, Historic New England offers a Historic Homeowner membership that provides homeowners with a higher level of guidance through the process.

Framingham History Center
An excellent resource for researching your building locally is the Framingham History Center. They have files of information covering many different aspects of Framingham’s history as well as other resources such as maps and directories. They have a permanent exhibit of Framingham’s history as well as different rotating exhibits and events.                                                           

Windows
The City of Cambridge has an excellent write-up on why wood windows are important and should be repaired rather than replaced. It can be found here.

Another good resource for information on wood windows is the New England Window Restoration Alliance. They also have a directory of window restoration specialists who can help you restore your building’s historic wood windows.

Paint
The City of Cambridge is also an excellent resource if you are planning to paint your house and would like to do so with historically-accurate colors. Information on choosing colors, particularly how many colors to choose, can be found here.

Gutters
While gutters do not fall under the purview of the local historic district commission, they are an important feature on historic buildings. If your house has wood gutters, and you are looking to change them, check out The Fiberglass Gutter Company in Pembroke. They produce wood-look gutters out of fiberglass; you get the appearance of wood gutters, without the maintenance.