Easements

Through our Easement Program, the Preservation Society creates co-steward relationships with property owners to preserve Charleston’s architectural heritage in perpetuity.

What is a Preservation Easement?

An easement is a legal agreement in which a property owner formally conveys the preservation authority of a property to a qualified organization, like the Preservation Society of Charleston. The PSC works closely with the owner to establish an agreement that is uniquely designed to reflect both parties’ vision for the future protection of the property. The goal of the easement program is to create a co-steward relationship between the property owner and the Preservation Society. The easement agreement may apply to the exterior or interior and outlines which features or materials must be preserved in place, as well as how the building may be used or altered going forward. In addition to preservation benefits, there is a fiscal incentive to participating in the easement program in the form of a charitable tax deduction to the owner. The result is mutually beneficial for all involved and safeguards Charleston’s architectural heritage for future generations.

Background
The PSC’s Easement Program was launched in the late 1970s with the protection of 252 Meeting Street, c. 1838, and 2 Unity Alley, c. 1779. Since then, the PSC has worked with property owners to ensure the preservation of over 80 historic properties, including many of Charleston’s most notable buildings.

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.

128 Tradd Street

New Easement Spotlight

“Hopie and I are so pleased to know that through the Preservation Society easement our family home will be preserved and protected
in the years to come. We are proud that we have taken this step. We know too well how Charleston is changing and are now very confident the property is safe with the Society.”

— Dr. Telfair Parker