Historic Homes Purchase and Preservation

Historic Homes Purchase and Preservation

Buying and preserving a historic home is not just a real estate transaction—it's a commitment to maintaining a piece of history. For lovers of architecture, tradition, and storytelling, historic homes offer a unique opportunity to step back in time and preserve a part of our cultural heritage. However, before taking the leap into purchasing and preserving a historic property, there are many considerations one must take into account.

Understanding the Significance of Historic Homes

Historic homes are more than just old buildings. They are archives of the past, offering insights into the architecture, materials, and design trends of different eras. These properties often contain unique features that are no longer commonly used or available, such as handcrafted woodwork, antique fixtures, stained glass windows, and original flooring. By purchasing and preserving a historic home, you are not just acquiring a place to live; you are becoming the steward of a historical artifact.

The Allure and Challenges of Buying Historic Properties

There's a certain allure to owning a piece of the past that attracts potential buyers to historic homes. The charm, character, and stories behind these properties can be incredibly compelling. However, alongside the allure come unique challenges. Historic homes can require extensive—and often costly—restoration and maintenance work to keep them not only livable but also true to their historical significance.

Potential buyers should thoroughly research the history of the property, seeking information on its construction, previous ownership, and any events of historical importance that may have occurred there. It's also wise to get a comprehensive inspection done by professionals who specialize in historic structures to identify any potential issues with the property.

Navigating Zoning Laws and Preservation Ordinances

When you invest in a historic home, you must become familiar with local zoning laws and preservation ordinances. Many historic homes are located within designated historic districts, which means there may be specific regulations governing what alterations can be made to the property, both internally and externally. These regulations are in place to protect the historical integrity of the area and its buildings.

Before purchasing a historic property, contact your local historic preservation office to understand the do's and don’ts. You'll need to learn about the approval processes for renovations, as well as any financial incentives or grants available for restoration projects.

The Financial Aspects of Restoring Historic Homes

Restoring a historic home can be an expensive endeavor, but there are various funding options and tax incentives available to homeowners. The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, for example, offers tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic properties. Some states also offer additional incentives, such as property tax abatements or low-interest loans, to encourage the preservation of historic buildings.

Additionally, many communities have local preservation societies that can be excellent resources for finding contractors experienced in historic renovations, as well as advice on sourcing authentic materials. Joining a community of fellow historic home enthusiasts can also provide support and inspiration for your project.

Living With History

Purchasing and preserving a historic home allows you to truly live with history. Every room has a story, and every feature is a testament to the craftsmanship of the past. However, living in a historic home isn't for everyone. It requires a passion for preservation and the patience to undertake potentially lengthy restoration processes.

Owners of historic homes often say that they don't feel like the owners at all—they're simply caretakers of something much larger than themselves. It's about keeping history alive for future generations to appreciate and learn from.


The journey of purchasing and preserving a historic home is filled with unique challenges and rewards. While it may involve navigating complex zoning laws, investing in substantial restorations, and committing to ongoing maintenance, the payoff is the privilege of living in a living piece of history. By becoming a steward of the past, you play an active role in educating others about the importance of cultural heritage and the stories our ancestors left behind.

For those who are drawn to the romance of bygone eras, the character of traditional craftsmanship, and the joy of bringing new life to something that has stood the test of time, the purchase and preservation of a historic home can be a deeply fulfilling endeavor. It is an investment not just in real estate, but in the preservation of history for years to come.

This article was contributed on Mar 06, 2024