If a natural disaster damages your historic property or buildings you own that are more than fifty years old, the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO) may be able to provide guidance and technical assistance as you begin the rebuilding process.

Is your property historic?

A property is considered historic if it is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is the nation's official list of buildings, sites, objects, and districts that warrant special preservation consideration. Approximately 45,000 historic properties in North Carolina are listed in the National Register either individually (more than 2,000) or as contributing properties within nearly 375 historic districts. In addition to the National Register listed and eligible properties, the HPO's Survey and Planning Branch maintains a roster of almost 4,700 older properties that are likely to be eligible for the National Register, including properties that have been designated as historic by local historic preservation commissions. Inclusion in this roster is not a guarantee of National Register eligibility because properties may have been altered or deteriorated since they were recorded, but it is probable that the vast majority are eligible for the register.

The HPO's Survey and Planning Branch can tell you if your property is listed in the National Register or appears to be eligible for listing. For properties that are not already in the register, staff can provide upon request a written evaluation of National Register eligibility for you to use in making insurance claims and applying for other forms of assistance. The more information you provide about a property, the better. Although the branch has files on more than 70,000 older properties, it is likely that additional information such as historical background and photographs of the property before and after the disaster-caused damage, will be needed when you request a determination of National Register eligibility. In certain cases, it may be necessary for staff to visit the property to determine its eligibility.

What assistance is available for historic properties?

The HPO's Restoration Branch can provide technical restoration services to owners of historic properties and cemeteries affected by a natural disaster. Staff will consult, free of charge, with local governments, nonprofit organizations, churches, and private citizens about damage and recommend repairs to historic properties. Services include telephone consultations, copies of technical articles and sample specifications, on-site inspections and evaluations, and referrals to specialty architects, contractors, and other restoration or rehabilitation experts. Photographs of storm-related damage can greatly facilitate telephone consultations about your historic property's needs.

Information is also available on methods and materials to repair storm-related damage and to best preserve the historic integrity of your property. Property does not have to be listed in the National Register for you to request a consultation, but due to staff limitations, priority will be given to listed and eligible properties.

The federal and state tax codes each provide a twenty percent tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of income-producing historic buildings that meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Non-income-producing historic structures, such as private residences, may be eligible for a thirty percent state tax credit if the work exceeds $25,000 and also meets the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. Rehabilitation work on non-income-producing structures must be approved by the HPO prior to the commencement of work.

Although there are no special federal or state grants available to owners of historic properties affected by natural disasters, historic properties may be entitled to additional consideration from private insurers and state and federal relief agencies. Be sure to indicate on all claims or requests for assistance that your property is or may be historic.

Have you considered buried remains or resources affected by a natural disaster?

Damaged historic properties may contain or may be significant themselves for archaeological resources. Once-buried features such as old wells, privies, cellar holes, foundations, and artifacts that are important to the history or understanding of an older property may have been exposed by uprooted trees, flood erosion, post-hurricane cleanup efforts, and other ground disturbances caused by a natural disaster. Historic watercraft may have been dislodged or damaged by wave action or erosion. In addition to damaging headstones and boundary markers in historic cemeteries, a storm also may have uncovered human burials. Redefining cemetery boundaries once markers or trees are gone is often difficult. The Office of State Archaeology can assist with the identification of significant historic, prehistoric, or maritime resources. Written or verbal reports of suspected archaeological artifacts or features are helpful. Our archaeologists will make efforts to visit damaged properties, and may accompany other HPO staff on inspections of damaged buildings or cemetery sites.

Who can you contact for assistance with your historic or older property?

For a determination of your property's National Register status, contact: 
Survey and Planning Branch
4617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4617
Telephone 919-814-6587, FAX 919-807-6599
email jenn.brosz@ncdcr.gov 

For restoration or rehabilitation assistance, contact:
Restoration Branch
4617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4617
FAX 919-807-6599
See the Restoration page for staff contact information

For assistance with archaeological sites or remains, contact:
Office of State Archaeology
4619 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4619
email archaeology@ncdcr.gov 

For assistance with the complexities of the bureaucracy, contact: 
Environmental Review Coordinator
4617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4617
Telephone 919-814-6579, FAX 919-807-6599
email renee.gledhill-earley@ncdcr.gov 

If you are located in a county or municipality with a historic preservation, landmark, or district commission, be sure to contact your local commission or preservation planner for assistance and information about specific ordinances that may affect your historic property.