Historic Preservation in Redding
Protect Key Features of Your Historic House With An Historic Preservation Easement
So, you’ve made your home in one of Redding’s wonderful examples of Federal-era architecture. You have spent years coping with powder-post beetles, leaky windows, and a collection of pipes and wires that look like they belong in the Smithsonian Institution. You’ve explained for the fifteenth time to your children why it’s ok if the floors in their house are “all slanty”, and you have stories to tell your friends about the patient search involved in the restoration work you have done.
Not all of this has been easy, but there have been compensations in the questions people ask about your house, the ties you have sustained to a long history, the drivers who slow down or stop to appreciate your home as one of those that make Redding a special kind of place.
But what comes next? Having poured love and treasure into the task of burnishing this historical gem, perhaps you are concerned that those who follow will not continue this task. Throughout Fairfield County, and increasingly right here in Redding, a ‘For Sale” sign on an historic house is also a “Farewell” sign as historic homes are demolished and we risk losing our longstanding continuity as a place with a living history.
Perhaps you have asked yourself, “What can I do to foster the preservation of my historic house, without damaging its value as a key asset and its continuing utility as a house and home?”
One way to accomplish this is through the placement of an historic preservation easement on all or part of the structure and property. An easement of this type represents a partnership – established in perpetuity – with another party who will promise to sustain the ground rules that you set for the preservation and restoration of your historic home.
The placement of an historic preservation easement is an act of stewardship that can have a notable and noble effect on the future of Redding as an historic place, while tailoring the scope of the preservation effort at your house to those things that you know to be of real and documented historic value. In many cases this is a more flexible and more precisely targeted approach than would come from additional town regulations.
A Pilot Program for Encouraging Historic Easements
The Town of Redding, in combination with the Redding Preservation Society and the Redding Historical Society, has created a pilot program aimed at encouraging the placement of historic preservation easements. This program builds upon an already-growing use of this concept in town, and is designed to make it easy for the owner of an historic house to establish an easement at a minimal expenditure of cost or effort. Also, by having the Town itself become the recipient of multiple easements there is the potential to establish uniform procedures and standards that can become institutionalized and tailored to Redding’s special history and its inventory of historic structures.
- Questions and Answers on Historic Easements in Redding
- Sample application form for listing of house on State Historic Resource Inventory
- Brief History of the Town of Redding’s Cultural Resource Preservation Efforts
- Redding Properties Listed on the National Register
- Step by step guide to process of setting up an historic easement
- Historic Preservation Contact List
- Mark Twain Library- published material available
- Useful links to other resources
Q&A on Historic Easements
What is a historic preservation easement?
An Historic Preservation Easement is a legal vehicle, attached to the property deed, which sets forth particular aspects of a property that are designated to be preserved and/or restored. The easement transfers to a designated institution the permanent duty and authority to enforce the preservation provisions.
The key factors in establishing such an easement are: a.) Documenting of the historical value of the house, property, or portion thereof that is to be preserved, and b.) Donating the easement to an organization qualified to receive it and able to perform a long-term expert role in administering and enforcing its provisions.
Does my house qualify for a historic preservation easement?
To qualify for an Historic Preservation Easement as normally defined, a house must be suitable for designation on the National Register of Historic Places, or as a contributing feature in a National Register Historic District. In Redding, there are two National Register Historic Districts (in Redding Center and in Georgetown), and the structures cited as
contributing features are documented within those districts. Formal designation on the National Register may not be necessary, however. Designation under similar standards by a qualified state or local entity can be sufficient. In Redding,
numerous properties are listed in the State of Connecticut’s Historic Resource Inventory, and there are also many unlisted properties that may be suitable for inclusion in this inventory, or for eventual National Register designation.
Is the easement on the entire house and property?
Historic Preservation Easements sometimes are designed to preserve an entire structure – or an outbuilding, or even the entire ensemble of structures and property. But they also can be tailored to the specific features on your property that are of special value or significance. The advice of the historical consultant – along with your own goals – will come into play in determining what to preserve.
Is this a well-proven idea?
Historic Preservation Easements have been used for generations to preserve significant properties without the imposition of centralized bureaucracies or bodies of regulation. In Redding, there are several Historic Preservation Easements in place, and several more are in process of discussion. In addition to this, however, there is a very long history in Redding
of using similarly-structured Conservation Easements in favor of the Town, the Redding Land Trust, and other entities involved in preserving open land. Redding’s Program for Historic Easements is modeled on the community’s recent experience in Historic Easements, as well as its extensive experience with Conservation Easements.
How is the Town's program structured?
The Town of Redding’s Program for Historic Easements is intended to inform owners of historic properties of the easement concept, and to facilitate the placement of Historic Preservation Easements where requested. Under this Program, the Town has established a pre-set cost for many of the services necessary to set up an easement. In addition, the Town is prepared to function as the recipient of the easements, with the Redding Preservation Society designated as a long-term provider of services to the Town for administering and enforcing the provisions of the easements.
What will it cost to set up the easement?
If your house is already listed as a qualified historic property, the Town has arranged a fixed price with James Sexton, an historical consultant, to work with you in documenting and structuring an easement and with the Redding Preservation Society to take on the long-term administrative and monitoring role. The total one-time cost for these services is set at $500. If your house is not presently designated as a qualifying historic property, there will be some potential additional cost in applying for designation (such as inclusion in the State of Connecticut Historic Resources Inventory.) Also, you should plan on the cost of reviewing the easement with your attorney, your tax or real estate adviser, etc.
My house isn't listed on the State Historic Resource Inventory. What now?
If the historical consultant sees potential for your house to be listed on the State Historical Resource Inventory, you will need to make application for the house to become listed.
What are the legal and real estate implications?
An easement is a legal document having a permanent and significant impact on your property. You should plan on reviewing something like this in detail with your attorney. Also, at time of resale an Historic Preservation Easement might be seen as a partial interest in the property, which the purchaser must be willing to accept. This may or may not limit the number of people who will be interested in buying the house. You should review this with your real estate advisor – and you may want to research the well-established history of how Historic Preservation Easements have influenced the real estate market in other communities.
Ok, I'm interested. What do I do?
The first step is to contact the Town via the First Selectman’s office. Within the scope of the Program, the Town is prepared to facilitate the entire process with you.
120 Years of Cultural Resource Preservation in Redding
Redding has a very long tradition of historic preservation and archaeology. In 1887 the property for Putnam Park was purchased by private citizens and turned over to the State of Connecticut in order to preserve the remains of a Revolutionary War Encampment, becoming Connecticut’s 1st State Park. The property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and in 2001 it was designated as the States 1st Archaeological Preserve.
1984 Redding’s Town Plan of Development acknowledged the importance of Historic Sites and the need for Historic Districts.
1986 Redding adopted a Scenic Road Ordinance to preserve the rural character of some the town’s historic roads.
1988 Town wide Architectural Survey of Historic Structures which was later up dated with a second phase in 1992. This was part of the State Historic Resource Inventory.
1987-92 National Register Districts established in Redding Center and Georgetown.
1998-99 Town wide Cultural Resource Assessment Survey was done to identify areas sensitive for the presence of prehistoric and historic archaeological sites and above ground historic structures. This resulted in the identification of 106 archaeological sites and the systematic review of 2,253 structures.
1999 A revised Town Plan of Development listed 13 priorities for historic and archaeological site preservation. The Town of Redding passed new subdivision ordinance requiring Cultural Resource review and survey of proposed subdivisions.
2004 The Town of Redding decided to sell Heritage House (link to HH page) back into private ownership with the added protection of historic easements to preserve its historic character.
2006 An ad-hoc committee was formed to explore the future of Historic Preservation in Redding. The goal of this committee is to include Historic Property Owners in this process.