Saturday, October 7, 2017

Historic Home Rehab Tax Credits Recently Used in Historic Cooksville

Wisconsin’s income tax credit program for historic homes has been used twice in Cooksville this past summer.

The State’s program for the rehabilitation of the exterior of a historic house, which can be financially helpful, is a 25% refund of qualified rehab expenses in the form of an income tax credit.

 The credits in Cooksville were granted for projects on the historic Longbourne House (1854) and the historic Van Buren House (1848). The two projects basically involved re-roofing the two residences.

Many historic homes in Cooksville have been restored and rehabilitated by owners, as have the two churches, the schoolhouse, the store, a blacksmith shop, as well as several outhouses. This has amounted to a total of about 20 historic buildings restored in the official Cooksville Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the State of Historic Places, and is also designated as a Historic Conservation District by the Town of Porter.

For at least the past forty years, Cooksville’s historic property owners have been rehabbing and thereby preserving their buildings. Their investments have enhanced the 19th-century character of the historic village—and, of course, have improved the value of their properties. These undertakings help ensure the future of the historic community, which celebrated its 175th birthday this year and which, hopefully, will be preserved for another 175 years.

The State of Wisconsin’s “Historic Homeowners' Tax Credit Program” helps preserve the historic homes, neighborhoods and villages throughout the State. The Tax Credit Program, administered by the Wisconsin Historical Society, provides the 25% tax credit to encourage and assist home-owners preserve part of the State’s historic built environment.

The tax credit is available to owners who rehab, repair and restore the exteriors of their historic residences. Most approved exterior (and some interior) work qualifies for this dollar-for-dollar income tax credit, which is used to write-off the owners’ State income taxes.

All the historic home owners in the official Cooksville Historic District are eligible to apply for the rehab tax credit. The application process is simple and quick but must be completed and approved before beginning the exterior rehab project. (Major exterior projects in Cooksville’s historic district must also be approved in advance by the Town of Porter’s Historic District Committee.) Potential historic older homes located elsewhere in the Town of Porter and not yet officially designated as historic by the State could be determined to be eligible for this rehabilitation tax credit through the application process.

The projects on the two historic homes in the Cooksville Historic District— the Longbourne House and the Van Buren House— resulted in new wood shingle roofs.

Scott on the Longbourne House roof
Scott Johnson and Lauren Hamvas, owners of the Longbourne House, have been busy rehabbing the house since they purchased it earlier this year. Scott has a Ph.D. in archaeology and learned about historic preservation programs from training by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and from experience working for archaeological consultants. Scott runs the Low Technology Institute where he researches pre-industrial technology and how it might be adapted for use in the future. And he and Lauren have been spending a lot of time rehabbing their house and gardens, for themselves as well as for their chickens and bees.
Longbourne House
Larry Reed has been rehabilitating his Van Buren House on and off for the past 40 years. But no chickens and only a few bees are permanent residents of his property, along with some other critters.

Van Buren House
The Wisconsin “Historic Homeowners' Tax Credit Program” has proved to be beneficial to the State in several ways .The program returns to the owner 25% of the cost of approved rehabilitations in the form of a Wisconsin income tax credit, and the State benefits from jobs created as well as from the investment in its historical heritage.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office administers the tax credit program. The application process is usually quick and easy. Basic requirements for the program are the following:

1. Make sure your home is a historic home. This means a home that is individually listed in the National Register or State Register of Historic Places, or a historic home that contributes to a National Register or State Register-listed historic district, or is a home that is determined to be eligible for an individual listing in the State Register of Historic Places.
2. You must plan to spend a minimum of $10,000 on eligible work that meets historic preservation standards.
3. You submit your Tax Credit Application before you do any work.

4. Your application is reviewed by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

5.  If your application is approved, you proceed with the project.

6. You notify the Wisconsin Historical Society when the work is completed.

For specific advice about the tax credit program or for advice on other technical historic architecture issues or preservation guidelines, contact Jen Davel by phone at (608) 264-6490 or by email: at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.

Other generous State and Federal income tax credits are available for rehabilitating non-owner occupied, income-producing historic buildings (stores, commercial structures, businesses, rental properties). These credits are a combined 20% State tax credit and a 20% Federal tax credit, for a total of 40%, available for rehabilitating income-producing historic buildings (not owner-occupied residences). Some different requirements apply to this State-Federal 40% tax credit program. For more information, contact the Wisconsin Historical Society at the telephone number and email address above.

You may also contact Larry Reed (608-873-5066) for information about the Village of Cooksville’s and the Town of Porter’s various historic preservation programs.
Cooksville Historic District, Town of Porter, Rock County

[Thanks to Scott Johnson and his neighbor, Joe Lawniczak, Design Specialist with the Wisconsin MAIN STREET Program, for the photos of the Longbourne House.]

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