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October 9, 2020

Historic preservation grants for building fixups available to Maine nonprofits

An old brick building with a steeple with white peeling paint and a snow-covered yard Photo / Maureen Milliken Readfield Union Meeting House was one of 16 historic preservation projects in the state awarded $100,000 in capital repair grants in May from the 1772 Foundation, administered by Maine Preservation. The 2021 round of grants has opened.
Who got grants from the 1772 Foundation this year?
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The 1772 Foundation has announced a second round of grants for nonprofit organizations to help pay for building upgrades on shovel-ready historic preservation projects, and to be administered by Maine Preservation.

The foundation first offered the grants to the six New England states a year ago, and in May 16 Maine nonprofits shared $100,000 for things like painting, safety features, porch repair and restoration and foundation upgrades.

Maine Preservation works with the 1772 Foundation to select projects that receive awards of up to $10,000. The initial pool, with awardees announced in May, came from 48 Maine applicants. Overall, the foundation worked with historic preservation organizations in all six New England states, awarding $600,000 to 79 grantees.

Applicants have to demonstrate the sustainability of the historic site they're seeking grant money for, including a cyclical maintenance and stewardship plan, condition assessment and more.

Letters of inquiry will be accepted until Nov. 6 and invited applications will be due Feb. 19. For details of what should be included in the letter of inquiry, organizations may visit the Maine Preservation webpage about the program.

Organizations must have a 501(c)(3) designation to apply, and also must have closed any previously awarded matching grant. Buildings currently used as schools or houses of worship are not eligible.

Funding covers matching grants for:

  • Exterior painting, finishes and surface restoration;
  • Installing or upgrading fire detection, lightning protection, and security systems;
  • Repairs to/restoration of porches, roofs, and windows;
  • Structural foundation and sill repair/replacement; and
  • Chimney and masonry repointing.

A successful debut for program

The 2020 grant round was the first time the foundation had opened the program to the six New England states.

"Small matching grants for brick-and-mortar preservation projects have long played an important role in the 1772 Foundation’s grant making, as it was the passion of its founder, Stewart B. Kean," said 1772 Foundation Board President B. Danforth Ely when the grants were awarded.

"The vast response to this grant has also shown to the foundation how necessary these brick-and-mortar grants are to keeping our historic structures standing."

Greg Paxton, executive director of Maine Preservation, said that the grants help support important work in Maine, where funding for such projects is "extremely limited."

"These organization know the value these structures bring to their communities and we are thrilled to be able to help them in furtherance of their missions," he said.

In May, the initial pool of 48 Maine applicants included libraries, theaters, museums, lighthouses and community centers requesting more than $435,197 in capital repair projects. Of the initial applicants, 28 were invited to submit full applications, totaling more than $235,000 in requests. 

The New Jersey-based 1772 Foundation provides grants for historic preservation, with a mission to ensure historic buildings and farms are preserved for future generations. 

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