Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund

Round 20 Awardees

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) announced that 19 projects were awarded a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) grant in Round 20 of the program. Approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission at its June 2014 meeting, a total of $780,000 was distributed to municipalities and nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth, subject to appropriation.

The Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) is a state-funded 50% reimbursable matching grant program established in 1984 to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites (cultural resources) listed in the State Register of Historic Places. Applicants must be a municipality or nonprofit organization.

Historic cultural resources in public and nonprofit ownership and use frequently suffer from deferred maintenance, incompatible use, or are threatened by demolition. These important resources represent a significant portion of the Commonwealth’s heritage. By providing assistance to historic cultural resources owned by nonprofit or municipal entities, the Massachusetts Historical Commission hopes to ensure their continued use and integrity. The program is administered in accordance with 950 CMR 73.00.

Please note that grant disbursement is subject to reauthorization of the capital accounts and the availability of sufficient allocated funds.

Eligible Activities

Pre-development Projects: Requests may be submitted to conduct studies necessary to enable future development or protection of a State Register-listed property, such as feasibility studies involving the preparation of plans and specifications, historic structures reports, and certain archaeological investigations. With planning projects, the architectural/engineering fees to conduct such studies are eligible for funding. Costs associated with the project sign, photography, and legal ads are also eligible for reimbursement.

Development Projects: Requests may be submitted for construction activities including stabilization, protection, rehabilitation, and restoration. Grant funding can only be used to cover costs of material and labor necessary to ensure the preservation, safety, and accessibility of historic cultural resources. Development of universal access is allowable as part of a larger project (ideally, no more than 30%). With construction or "bricks & mortar" projects, therefore, the architectural or engineering fees for any project work are not eligible for funding or use as matching share.

Allowable costs*: Overall building preservation, building code compliance, and barrier-free access where historic fabric is directly involved are eligible as well as the cost of a project sign, photography, recording of the preservation restriction, and legal ads.

*Please contact Grants Division staff to review your scope of work or individual work items if you are unsure about eligibility.

Non-allowable costs: Projects consisting of routine maintenance, upgrading of mechanical systems (i.e., heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical, plumbing), renovation of non-historic spaces, moving of historic buildings, or construction of additions will not be considered. Architectural or engineering fees for any project work are not eligible for funding or use as matching share.

Acquisition Projects: Requests may be submitted to acquire State Register-listed properties that are imminently threatened with inappropriate alteration or destruction.

Amount of Request

The Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund is currently funded for one grant round through fiscal year 2015. Requests for pre-development projects can range from $5,000 to $30,000; requests for development or acquisition projects may range from $7,500 to $100,000. Work completed prior to grant award is ineligible for funding consideration.

A unique feature of the program allows applicants to request up to 75% of total construction costs if there is a commitment to establish a historic property maintenance fund by setting aside an additional 25% over their matching share in a restricted endowment fund.

Emergency funds are available at the Secretary’s discretion for stabilization of resources considered in imminent danger. There are no deadlines for the submission of emergency fund requests.

State Register Listing

The State Register of Historic Places is the official list of the state’s cultural resources deserving preservation consideration. The State Register is a compilation of eight different types of local, state, and federal designations. The most common designations on the State Register are National Historic Landmarks, National Register properties, and local historic districts.

The largest single category on the State Register is from National Register nominations. The MHC can only accept National Register nominations from communities that have completed a comprehensive survey of their historic properties. National Register listing involves substantial lead-time and therefore procedures for nominating eligible unlisted properties should be implemented well ahead of the next grants cycle. Properties can be listed individually or as contributing elements of a National Register District. To find out if your community has a comprehensive survey or to initiate the process of evaluating a property for listing on the National Register, contact the Preservation Planning Division of the MHC.

Applicants should contact the Massachusetts Historical Commission or their local historical commission to ascertain State Register status of the property before applying for grant funds.

Selection Criteria

  • Level of historical significance of the property
  • Potential for loss or destruction of the property
  • Administrative and financial management capabilities of the applicant
  • Appropriateness of proposed work for the property
  • Demonstrated financial need
  • Extent of public support and benefit from users, professionals, and community leaders
  • Consistency with state and local preservation and community revitalization plans
  • Use of traditional materials and building techniques
  • Geographic distribution and first-time grant for community/project

Preservation Restriction
(M.G.L. Ch. 184, ss.31-33)

The owner of a property funded for a development or acquisition project must enter into and record a preservation restriction and maintenance agreement in perpetuity. Owners of properties funded for pre-development projects shall enter into a preservation restriction for a term of years, depending on the grant amount awarded.

MPPF Application Process

The Round 20 grants cycle has closed. If you have any questions or need further information, please call MHC’s Grants Division at 617-727-8470 or e-mail Paul Holtz.

The application and instructions for Round 20 are available for download below but should be used for reference only. The Round 20 grant cycle has closed. No future rounds are authorized at this time. The application and instructions may be viewed using Adobe Reader (v8 or higher).

MPPF Round 20 Application (PDF)

MPPF Round 20 Instructions (PDF)