The Preservation Society of Charleston has been accepting preservation easements since 1978 and currently holds over 75 exterior as well as numerous interior easements. The Preservation Society accepts exterior façade and interior easements on properties in Charleston and areas beyond the city.  

What is a preservation easement?

A preservation easement is a legal agreement made between a property owner and a qualified easement holding organization. The easement protects the architectural integrity of a property by restricting future alterations and uses of the property. Preservation easements can be donated to protect both the exterior and interior of a qualifying property. The easement deed is a perpetual, private preservation agreement that guarantees that the property owner will not, without the approval of the Preservation Society of Charleston:

  • alter the architectural character of the structures on the site,
  • change the use or density of the property,
  • construct new buildings or disturb archaeological features, or
  • subdivide the property.

What are the benefits of donating an easement?

An easement on a certified historic structure allows the owner to protect their property in perpetuity while qualifying for Federal tax deductions. The value of the deduction is determined by an appraisal and calculated by using the property owner’s federal tax rate.

How does a property qualify for a tax deduction?

To qualify for a tax deduction as defined by the IRS the property must be considered a “certified historic structure.” The IRS definition of a certified historic structure includes any building, structure, or land area that is:

  • Listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, or
  • Located in a National Register of Historic Places-listed historic district and certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior as being historically significant to the district.

The Preservation Society is available to assist property owners with this process. To apply for certification, the Preservation Society will complete a Part I of the Historic Preservation Certification Application. The Part 1 of the application is sent to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which forwards it to the National Park Service, which issues certification on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The property must be certified by the National Park Service prior to conveying the easement, or before the owner files a Federal income tax return for the year in which the easement was granted. 

What is the donation process?

  • A person certified to appraise properties for easement purposes appraises the property.
  • A draft easement document is prepared by the property owner’s attorney and reviewed by both the property owner and the Preservation Society. Each easement document is tailored to the needs of the individual property owner.
  • There are fees associated with granting an easement based on the complexity of the property.
  • The easement document is recorded at the Charleston County Register of Means Conveyance (RMC) office.
  • For more information on preservation easements visit the National Park Service website at http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/tax/easement.htm.
  • For additional information regarding the Preservation Society’s preservation easement program,contact Erin Minnigan, Director of Historic Preservation, at 843.722.4630 ext. 25, or email at eminnigan@ preservationsociety.org