A preservation easement is a legal agreement between the owner of a historic property and Historic Charleston Foundation that establishes perpetual protection for the property. An easement allows homeowners to prevent inappropriate changes from being made to their historic property by giving Historic Charleston Foundation the ability to work with current and future owners to safeguard its historic character, materials and significance.
A Request for Alteration Form must be submtted to the easement manager for any alterations or repairs to easement or covenant properties. The request must be approved prior to any changes or construction. Questions about repairs or alterations should be addressed to the easement manager.
Owners of an easement property are legally obligated to honor the terms of the easement, while retaining ownership of the property. Easement donors make a gift to current and future generations when they voluntarily place perpetual restrictions on their historic property. When an easement donor makes a "qualified contribution" of an easement, the donor is entitled to an income tax deduction.
One of the Foundation's most significant preservation battles of the 1970s and early '80s was the effort to preserve the William Gibbes House, 64 South Battery, as a single-family residence.
Treasuring the patrimony of their unique city, Charlestonians designated America's first historic district and passed its first preservation zoning ordinance in 1931. Public and private efforts grew in succeeding years, but federal laws and state grants did not assist appreciably in the protection of most historic sites.
In the late 1980s, the Foundation sought to purchase and rehabilitate houses in the East Side neighborhoods north of Calhoun Street and resell them with protective covenants for use as rental housing.
Since 1940, Charleston has lost several hundred historic structures and nearly one-third of the antebellum plantation buildings in the surrounding countryside. Countless battlefields and archaeological sites have been destroyed by development. Construction since 1970 has caused significant encroachment on the quantity and quality of our precious heritage sites, sometimes through demolition, but more often through neglect, improper maintenance, insensitive alteration, or large scale sprawl development.
Today, more than ever, effective tools such as conservation easements are an essential force in securing our architectural and historic heritage. For more information, contact April Wood, Manager of Easements and Technical Outreach.
To consider donating an easement, request an alteration of easement property, or see the list of all easements, please contact the Manager of Easements and Technical Outreach.