Archive for the ‘Historic News’ Category

Old Home Certified in Minnesota

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Old Home Certified Minnesota Historic Home AgentSeeking a Realtor® who knows vintage properties?

Jennifer Kirby, the premier go-to real estate agent in Minnesota specializing in historic homes now carries the Old Home Certified designation from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s Cornerstone Academy educational program.

Of course, Jennifer already specializes in old homes and has helped many Minnesotans realize their dream of selling or buying a historic house. This special designation just further helps deliver key insights and information on Minnesota houses and architecture, old home resources, the history of neighborhood development, sustainability in older homes, historic district details and more. The Old Home Certified course is taught by a variety of experts in their respective fields, with two courses taught by Jennifer herself

While a designation is nice to have, proven sales in historic homes is more important. Concentrating on a niche market means Jennifer is able to concentrate her time on the historic home market in the Twin Cities, the surrounding Metro area, and towns throughout Minnesota. She is more than willing to travel to Greater Minnesota to help home owners sell their unique old home, or to help  a buyer not quite sure what to look for when purchasing a home 100+ years old.

Looking to sell or buy a historic home? 

Make your first and only call to Jennifer!


Help for the Historic Home Owner

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Posted with Permission of Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
By – Erin Hanafin Berg, PAM Field Representative

My heart always sinks a little when I receive a message like this one, from Jenny in Duluth:

I am wondering if there are any programs, funding or loan options for purchasing a home that needs restoration. The home is not on the historic registry, but it is a beautiful brick house built in 1913 that needs extensive repairs.  The house is in foreclosure, and I am would like to learn about any programs that might exist to help me restore it as my primary residence.

Unfortunately, there are very few preservation programs available in Minnesota to help residential property owners. The new state rehabilitation tax credit is only available for income-producing properties that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Grants, like the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants, typically can only be used by non-profit organizations or municipal entities. Minnesota had a property tax exemption program, called This Old House, that allowed homeowners to freeze their local property taxes at the pre-renovation value for up to fifteen years,  but the program ended in 2003 and the legislature has seemed reluctant to reauthorize it. We lag behind our neighbors in Wisconsin, where a 25% income tax credit is available for historic homeowners; reportedly, more than 16,000 historic houses might qualify. In terms of historic preservation funding, Minnesota homeowners come up short.

But other funding-assistance programs out there can help, and many people don’t know to turn first to their local housing agencies. Many Community Development Corporations (CDCs) have residential housing improvements and neighborhood stability as the core of their missions, and may have loans, grants, or other financial resources available. In Duluth, for example, Neighborhood Housing Services is the local lending partner that provides access to the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency’s Fix-Up Funds. Oftentimes income qualifications apply, but this doesn’t mean that a household has to be near the poverty line to be eligible—the guidelines are often set as a percentage of the area’s median household income. (You might be surprised to learn what qualifies as “low-income” in your community.)

Rebates for energy-efficient appliance upgrades (furnace, refrigerator, water heater, etc.) are often available through the local utility company or community-based energy agency. In Duluth, the local utility is Minnesota Power, which has an extensive list of rebates. DEEP – Duluth Energy Efficiency Program – offers up to $2,500 in rebates for all income levels. Weatherization assistance for low-income residents is available across the state, accessed through local partners like the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency in Duluth. (If you plan to undertake weatherization improvements, be sure to read our information on window rehabilitation before you assume that your windows need replacing!)

There are also some special HUD-financed rehab loans available through mortgage companies and banks. According to HUD, “The borrower can get just one mortgage loan, at a long-term fixed (or adjustable) rate, to finance both the acquisition and the rehabilitation of the property” (as opposed to a first mortgage, which would finance the purchase of the property pre-renovation, and then higher-rate construction loans to fund the rehab work). Also, there are still  programs through Minnesota Housing to assist first-time homebuyers, or buyers who have not owned a home within the past three years. MHFA’s CASA program includes a “purchase and repair” option, but it is only available in targeted areas and both income limits and purchase price limits apply.

Financial assistance is available for rehabilitating an older home, but you need to know where to look. Hopefully this gives Jenny, and others like her, a place to start.

Partners in Preservation: Twin Cities Initiative 2011

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Make sure you take the time to vote for who you think should receive top honors for the Twin Cities Partners in Preservation contest. The program is sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation who will donate $1 Million in preservation grants.

Personally I am voting for the “underdogs”, those being locations outside Minneapolis and St. Paul. So often our more rural Minnesota landmarks are overlooked, and they are the ones who need the money more. Currently the Basilica and Swedish Institute are in the top two places, but really, do they need the money as much as other places? But that is just my opinion….vote for your favorite!

Open houses this weekend at most locations!

Partners in Preservation: Twin Cities Initiative 2011

Historic Preservation Awards

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This past week I had the honor of sitting on the Jury Panel for the 2010 Minnesota Preservation Awards, my second year doing so. It is not an easy task deciding on who should win an award, but it is exciting and interesting to see the numerous projects all over Minnesota that are striving to preserve our historic heritage. Now in its 26th year, the Preservation Awards honor the top Minnesota preservation projects for various categories, including but not limited to Adaptive Reuse, Restoration, Stewardship, and Community Efforts.

This years event will take place on September 16th, in Winona at the Winona County History Center. If you would like to attend, please visit the Preservation Alliance website for more information.

30th Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Conference

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

If you have time in September, then you might want to consider attending the Historic Preservation Conference held in Winona, MN this year. For two days, September 16-17, 2010, attendees can learn about various historic topics like:

  • The recently passed Historic Renovation Tax Credit
  • Regulating New Construction in Historic Districts
  • Dealing with Threatened Buildings through Re-use Studies
  • Historic Rehab Standards
  • Preserving Local Landmarks

There are also tours available around Winona to showcase certain historic areas/buildings. For more information about the event, please visit the Minnesota Historical Society webpage.

The Julian Weaver House

Friday, April 16th, 2010
863 Lincoln St, Granite Falls, MN

Saving a historic home is not an easy task, especially when no one wants it. In 2005, the Weaver house was placed on the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s 2005 10 Most Endangered List, as the city wanted the home to be moved off the flood plain, and if no site was found, the home would be demolished.

Built in 1878 by Julian A. Weaver, a civil war veteran, this Italianate home is one of the most intact examples of 1870s residential architecture remaining in west-central Minnesota. Seeing as most of the surrounding homes had been demolished over the years, or moved, it was extremely important that this home be saved.

The Granite Falls Historical Society and the City of Granite Falls had looked for three years to find a buyer to no avail. In January 2008, just as the home was slated for demolition, Sarina Otaibi, an undergraduate college student, offered to purchase it and saved it from demolition.The house was moved three blocks away in May of 2008, and Ms. Otaibi spent the next year in renovations, and eventually sold the home to a new owner in December 2009.

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota awarded Ms. Otaibi a Minnesota Preservation Emerging Leader award for her efforts in historic preservation.

Minnesota State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty through Jobs Stimulus Bill

Minnesota joins 30 other states in catalyzing job-creation through preservation projects

Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:00 a.m., Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law the Minnesota Jobs Stimulus Bill, a diverse array of tax incentives to stimulate job growth in Minnesota. The bill is estimated to create between 12,000 and 20,000 jobs across the state.

A significant feature of the bill is the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, an incentive to stimulate green job growth, increase local tax base, and revitalize urban and main street communities through reinvestment in historic properties. This provision is estimated to create between 1,500 and 3,000 construction jobs annually if Minnesota is consistent with other state programs.

Minnesota’s state historic preservation tax credit will allow a state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating a qualifying historic property. The program mirrors the federal rehabilitation tax credit, a provision that has been in place since 1976. Projects are eligible to claim the state credit if they are allowed the federal credit, a program which requires properties to be listed in the National Register of Historic Preservation to qualify. Minnesota currently has 1,600 listings in the National Register representing almost 7,000 individual properties. Projects must be income-producing to use the credit, therefore, homesteaded residential projects are not eligible. Our law also creates innovation in the tax credit market by allowing a developer to choose either a certificated, refundable credit or a grant, which will stimulate nonprofit use of the incentive, and also can be used against the insurance premium tax widening the investor pool. Click here to link to the Jobs Stimulus bill language.

Continue Article at Preservation Alliance of Minnesota

2009 Minnesota Preservation Awards

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I had the opportunity this year to sit on the judging panel for the 2009 Minnesota Preservation Awards, which is run by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. The awards ceremony was tonight, marking the 25 anniversary since the creation of the awards. With 43 nominations received, it was difficult narrowing down the field to 15 winners. But the overall process was very enjoyable as we viewed different projects throughout the state.

This years winners are:

  • Franklin Arts Center, Brainerd (Adaptive Reuse)
  • Central Park Condos, Red Wing (Adaptive Reuse)
  • Kenwood Queen Anne, Minneapolis (Addition/Expansion)
  • Darlene Kotelnicki ( Advocacy)
  • Garden of Gethsemane, Minneapolis ( Community Effort)
  • Simley High School -Rock Island Swing Bridge Inver Grove Heights (Community Effort)
  • Municipal Grain Terminal, Saint Paul ( Education)
  • Sarina Otaibi-Weaver House, Granite Falls ( Emerging Leader)
  • St Paul Preservation Plan (Preservation Planning)
  • Everett and Shannan Hughes, Red Wing (Restoration/Rehab)
  • Folwell Hall, U of M, Minneapolis ( Restoration/Rehab)
  • Fort Snelling Upper Post (Stewardship)
  • Seven Bridges Road, Duluth (Restoration, Rehab)
  • Mark Swenson, ESG Architects (Career Achievement)
  • Warren Burger Federal Building, Saint Paul ( Sustainable Design)

For more information about these projects please visit the Alliance website.

Finding Your Home’s History

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

One of the things I love about living in Minnesota is the preservation of local history. It has been going on here for over 150 years and a wealth of information is available to those seeking to learn a little bit more about their home. Here are some ideas for your detective work:

  • Look at your home’s abstract and figure out the timeline for your home’s previous owners
  • Visit your city/county records office and find the original building permit. Many time this will list the builder/architect/year built/cost of construction/home owner.
  • Speak with the State Historic Preservation Office – they have information on properties surveyed for historic designation and those nominated to the National Register of Historic Places
  • Visit any local Historical Societies near your home to gain further knowledge and maybe find some cataloged information about the home or home owner
  • If you live in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and some other larger towns in Minnesota, the Sanborn Insurance Maps (1880-1960s) have structural footprints of buildings and other detailed information. Some other maps to look at are the Rascher Fire Insurance Maps, which cover St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth, and the Fire Underwriters Bureau Maps.
  • Check out the Minnesota Historical Society photo database and see if there is an old photo of your home.
  • Look through the Dual Cities Blue Book, a city directory of owners and occupants. Some even feature reverse address indexes.
  • The Northwest Architectural Archives have house plans, books, architect information, etc available for you to look through.

Becoming a detective can be a daunting task and cannot be done overnight, unless you already have tons of info from previous owner. But if you check into some of these resources, the history of your home can come to light. Do note however, that there will be many instances where the history has been lost, so don’t get discouraged. Happy researching!

Historic Fort Snelling Buildings Might Get a Face Lift

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

For those of you who read my blog, you know I focus on more than just historic homes. I like to feature churches and buildings,too, and anything with historic significance. Today I read that the Upper Post buildings at Fort Snelling could be getting funds to fix a few buildings sorely in need of repair.

“On Tuesday, the Hennepin County board accepted $500,000 in state grant money to provide emergency stabilization for two buildings on the Upper Post. Then the board approved seeking $6.75 million in federal stimulus money to restore the Post Headquarters building and the officers’ quarters building.”

If this goes through, it will be a great addition to the fort. As some of you know, the Upper Post was declared one of the most endangered sites in the US three years ago. If you want to learn more about Fort Snelling and the Upper Post, please visit the following sites:

Friends of Fort Snelling:

Upper Post Website: