Preservation Easements

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What are Preservation Easements?

Through easements, we partner with property owners who transfer partial interest in their real estate to ensure its future. To qualify for an easement, the property needs to be formally designated as an historic asset on the local, state or national level.

By entering into this partnership, owners give up certain development rights in exchange for financial benefits while agreeing to abide by certain rules that maintain the property’s historic integrity. Easements are one of the most powerful and popular tools for preservation as they are a perpetual, legal agreement between Historic Columbia and the property’s current and future owners.

Easements and historic designation are not the same thing. Easements are an additional tool that owners can use to protect their historic property. Easements are not automatic. They are donated voluntarily by the owner and are established on a case-by-case basis.


If you are interested in preserving your property through an easement partnership with Historic Columbia, please contact John Sherrer, Director of Preservation.

Typical easements involve an initial donation to cover administrative costs associated with establishing baseline documentation for the property and legal fees for drawing up the covenant. Once the easement is recorded with the Register of Deeds, you are all set! Thereafter, each year, easement donors pay Historic Columbia a small inspection and reporting fee that runs in perpetuity with the deed. This annual donation ensures that character-defining features of your property are preserved for you and future generations.

Easement Portfolio

We currently maintain 14 easements through our Historic Easement Program. As part of this program, our staff conducts annual property inspections and — should the owners need to perform exterior improvements — passes judgment on exterior design and renovation decisions. These legal agreements have helped maintain the historic integrity of and promote the rehabilitation of the following properties: