Historic barns (those built before 1960) may be restored for educational purposes, as museums, as shelter for livestock or storage for machinery or to meet other functional needs of a modern farm. A census conducted in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that there are 664,264 historic barns in the U.S. and that 21,358 of them are in Michigan. Multiple funding opportunities are available to restore historic barns.The National Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the major sources of funding for barn restoration and, in 2010 alone, the trust awarded more than $61 million in grants, loans and direct equity investment to support diverse preservation projects across the country.
The National Trust Loan Fund
In 2009, the National Trust Loan Fund provided $663,000 in grants for preservation-related projects across the U.S. Preference is given to projects in underprivileged or distressed communities. Information about the application procedure may be obtained via NationalTrust_LoanFund@nthp.org or by calling 202-588-6158.
National Trust Preservation Funds
The Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation provides grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 for preservation projects. Individuals may apply only if their barn is listed on the National Historic Landmark register. Funds may be used for professional restoration advice, conferences or education programs. The annual application deadline is Feb. 1.
The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors provides grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 to assist in the preservation and restoration of historic interiors. Individuals may apply only if their barn is listed on the National Historic Landmark register. Funds may be used for professional expertise, print and video communications and education programs. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund has an annual deadline of Feb. 1.
Federal Historic Preservation Grants
The National Park Service has provided funding for a variety of grant programs aimed at protecting significant historic and cultural sites. The Preserve America matching-grant program provides funding to support preservation efforts through tourism, education and historic preservation planning. Applicants must register with grants.gov and apply for federal grants using the grants.gov application procedure.
Michigan Tax Incentives for Barn Restoration
Historic barn owners and long-term lessees who undertake qualified restoration of their barns can apply for credits against their federal and state general income taxes or for a Michigan Single Business tax credit of up to 25 percent of qualified restoration expenses. The federal income tax credits are divided into 10 percent and 20 percent categories. The 20 percent credit applies to restoration of barns listed on a national or state register of historical properties, while a 10 percent credit applies only to restoration of properties built prior to 1936. Applications are available at the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) website (www.sos.state.mi.us/history/preserv/preserve.html) or by calling 517-373-1630. Note that there is an application processing fee of $250 and an additional fee that may range from $500 to $2,500 depending on the cost of the restoration.
Barn Again Awards and Mini-Grants
The Barn Again Program is a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and promotes the restoration of historic barns by assisting owners in finding sources of funding and developing effective uses for their historic property. Barn owners who are involved in full-time farming and put forth an outstanding effort to maintain their historic barns are eligible to receive The Farm Heritage Award ($1,000) or a Recognition Award of $250.
The Mini-Grants program is part of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network and offers a maximum of $250 for barn tours or to sponsor a workshop on the subject of barn restoration.
- Census of Historic Barns in the U.S.
- Barns in the U.S. Built Prior to 1960
- Preservation Fund 2010
- The National Trust Loan Fund
- National Trust Preservation Funds
- Federal Historic Preservation Grants
- National Park Service. "What is the National Register of Historic Places?" Accessed Feb. 14, 2020.
- National Park Service. "The Preparation and Use of Historic Structure Reports." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.
- National Park Service. "How to List a Property." Accessed March 4, 2020.
- National Park Service. "FAQs." Accessed March 4, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Tax Aspects of the Historic Preservation Tax Incentives - FAQs." Accessed Feb. 10, 2020.
- National Park Service. "National Register Bulletin," Page 3. Accessed March 4, 2020.
- National Park Service. "National Register Bulletin," Page 2. Accessed March 4, 2020.
Erin Connelly has been a writer for university, government and nonprofit publications since 2003. She has edited submissions for "Nature," Continuum Publishing and the National Institutes of Health. Connelly holds a Master of Arts in English.