Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For those state and local governments grappling with preservation issues, Maryland has a no-cost approach that's 27 years old.
Even before the current financial crisis, state and local governments struggled to find funding for historic preservation. For those grappling with preservation issues, a program in Maryland has managed to ensure the long-term preservation of many of its historic buildings at no cost to the state. For the past 27 years, the state Department of National Resources, in partnership with the Maryland Historical Trust, has granted residents a lifetime tenancy in exchange for restoring -- out-of-pocket -- crumbling structures to national historic standards. The Maryland Resident Curatorship Program asks that each resident curator dedicate over $100,000 to restoring these state park properties. In return, resident curators live rent-free, pay no property taxes or condo fees, and face no possibility of new development. Since it started in 1982, 43 resident curators have joined the program and have spent more than $8 million fixing up these publicly owned buildings. The state DNR actively seeks out new resident curators as properties become available, and hosts open houses to show the properties. Details on how to submit a restoration proposal are available on the Web site. Applicants have to show a five- to seven-year plan for restoration, and each contract is approved by the state Board of Public Works.