The MDAH Historic Preservation staff empowers entire communities to tell their own stories through programming that makes it possible to preserve historic places. Here, we outline the resources we have to offer builders, developers, architects, archaeologists, researchers, consultants, and federally recognized Tribes. MDAH Historic Preservation staff members are professionals with expertise in history, archaeology, architectural history, and technical preservation.
We provide technical assistance and grants for preservation projects and maintain an extensive database of the state’s archaeological sites and historic resources.
In addition, we manage federal project (Section 106) reviews, the Mississippi Landmark program, the federal and state Rehabilitation Tax Credit programs, the Certified Local Government program, the National Register of Historic Places nominations, the State Historical Marker program, and the Abandoned Cemeteries program.
Let us help you renew the life and purpose of your community’s historic buildings. MDAH offers a variety of preservation tools including how to become a Certified Local Government (CLG), apply for grants, and take advantage of state and federal tax credits.
Become a Certified Local Government
The Certified Local Government Program is a federal-state-local partnership established in 1980 by amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The CLG program permits local governments that have established their own historic preservation programs–meeting both federal and state standards–to participate directly in the national historic preservation program and processes.
CLG communities receive special technical assistance and training from MDAH staff, including:
- programs to heighten local preservation awareness,
- assistance with drafting preservation ordinances,
- training workshops for the local preservation commission,
- and assistance in
- establishing local historic districts,
- identifying architecturally and historically significant buildings and sites,
- preparing National Register nominations,
- compiling design review guidelines for historic districts, and
- many other kinds of projects to promote preservation of the community’s historic resources.
A CLG preservation commission is also consulted in matters regarding the National Register of Historic Places and federal projects that affect local historic properties.
CLG Frequently Asked Questions
- What communities have Certified Local Government designation?
There are currently fifty-four Certified Local Governments in Mississippi.
Aberdeen, Baldwyn, Biloxi, Booneville, Brandon, Canton, Carthage, Carrollton, Claiborne County, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Clinton, Columbia, Columbus, Como, Corinth, Durant, Gautier, Greenville, Greenwood, Hattiesburg, Hazelhurst, Hernando, Holly Springs, Indianola, Jackson, Kosciusko, Laurel, Leland, Lexington, Louisville, McComb, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Mount Olive, Natchez, New Albany, Ocean Springs, Oxford, Pascagoula, Philadelphia, Port Gibson, Quitman, Raymond, Senatobia, Sharkey County, Starkville, Tunica, Tupelo, Vicksburg, Water Valley, West, West Point, and Woodville.
- What is the Certified Local Government (CLG) program?
The Certified Local Government (CLG) program extends the federal (National Park Service) and state (Mississippi Department of Archives and History) partnership to the local level. Any city, town, or county that has enacted a historic preservation ordinance, enforces that ordinance through a local historic preservation commission, and has met the requirements outlined in the Mississippi Certified Local Government Guidelines is eligible to become a CLG.
- What are the benefits of becoming a CLG?
The benefits of becoming a CLG include:
- improved communication and coordination with, local, state, and federal preservation activities;
- opportunities for technical assistance and educational opportunities about historic preservation;
- assistance to the CLG in developing a preservation plan;
- the opportunity to review local nominations for the National Register of Historic Places prior to consideration by the Mississippi Professional National Register Review Board;
- eligibility for CLG grant funds;
- ability for organizations in CLG communities in good standing to apply for Community Heritage Preservation Grants for properties other than courthouses and schools.
- What are the responsibilities of a CLG?
The local city, town, county, or county-municipality (through a Memorandum of Understanding) must do the following:
- enact an ordinance which establishes a historic preservation commission and which includes designation provisions for the identification and registration of historic property and the protection of such property;
- enforce the preservation ordinance;
- appoint and maintain a qualified historic preservation commission which meets at least quarterly;
- abide by the provisions of the certification agreement including keeping MDAH informed of preservation activities through submission of minutes, annual reports, and other communication;
- maintain a system for the survey and inventory of historic properties in the local area;
- provide for adequate public participation in the local historic preservation program;
- recommend properties for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places;
- review National Register of Historic Places nominations that involve properties within the local government’s jurisdiction;
- adhere to all federal requirements for CLG Program;
- if awarded preservation funding, abide by the grant agreement;
- We’re already a Main Street community. Do we need to become a CLG, too?
The Mississippi Main Street program emphasizes good local organization, promotion, design, and economic development and has been adapted to meet the needs of many Mississippi towns. The CLG program serves communities of all sizes to help integrate historic preservation and the local government, to help thread historic preservation into local land-use policy. Many communities have successfully integrated preservation planning and Main Street programs.
- If we want to have an historic preservation commission / district, do we have to apply for CLG designation?
While most communities in Mississippi with a Historic Preservation Commission are designated as CLGs, it is optional. Communities with preservation commissions and districts who are not CLGs receive very limited assistance from MDAH to further their preservation efforts.
- Is there a population requirement for participation in the CLG program?
No, participation is open to local governments of any size.
- Can someone come to my community to talk to my local elected officials about the CLG program?
Yes, contact Meredith Massey, Certified Local Government Coordinator at 601-576-6538 or email@example.com.
- Is there an opportunity for our historic preservation commission (HPC) to get training?
Yes! The Historic Preservation Division regularly provides training at little to minimal cost. Each year, the HPD staff has four regional training sessions across the state. Typically lasting half of a day, the regional trainings cover a broad range of topics and are held in a discussion-based atmosphere. In late April or early May, the HPD staff has a two day intense training session called Preservation Boot Camp. Preservation Boot Camp is a deep-dive into the benefits of historic preservation, architectural history, and the programs that the HPD is responsible for administering.
- We’re already certified; how do we apply for grants?
Grant applications are automatically sent by the CLG Grants Administrator, Lydia Charles, to the CLG contact within each local government. For more information Lydia may be contacted at 601-576-6903 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the local government has a long term commitment to historic preservation, the CLG program can be useful tool to assist the community in achieving its goals. The average CLG Grant award is around $5,000 – and rarely does a community receive more than $10,000 for their projects so it is not the best source of funds for major capital projects. CLG status does allow the community to have access to the Community Heritage Grant awards; however, that is a highly competitive process as well and is funded at the will of the legislature.
Tax Incentives for Historic Properties
Substantial federal and state tax incentives are available for the rehabilitation of qualifying buildings in Mississippi. Federal and state tax incentives programs encourage private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings, which creates jobs and revitalizes communities. Projects may be eligible for both state and federal tax credits.
The federal government offers a 20% credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures used for income-producing purposes. The State of Mississippi offers a 25% credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures used for income-producing purposes. Properties qualifying for the 20% federal preservation tax credit may also qualify for the state tax credit.
Owner-occupied residential properties do not qualify for the federal or state rehabilitation tax credits.
Tax Credit Basics
The amount of credit available under the federal program equals 20% of the qualifying expenses of the rehabilitation. In addition, the state program equals 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenses.
- The tax credit is only available to properties that will be used for a business or other income–producing purpose, and a "substantial" amount must be spent rehabilitating the historic building.
- The building must be certified as a historic structure.
- Rehabilitation work has to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Am I Eligible?
These four factors can help you decide whether your rehabilitation project would meet the basic requirements for the 20% federal tax credit and/or the 25% state tax credit. The eligibility requirements for the state and federal tax credits are similar.
- The building must be a certified historic structure.
The historic building must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places or be certified as contributing to the significance of a National Register historic district.
Buildings may be listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places or as a part of a historic district. To determine if their property is listed on the National Register, search our Historic Resources Inventory Database, the collected National Register listings for the state, or contact the Historic Preservation Division at email@example.com or 601-576-6940.
Owners of historic buildings not listed either individually or as part of a historic district may use the Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 1 to request a preliminary determination of significance. If the National Park Service (NPS) determines the property meets National Register criteria, the owner may proceed with the rehabilitation project while the nomination process is underway.
If your property is located in a National Register district or a certified state or local district, it still must be designated as a structure that retains historic integrity and contributes to the historic character of the district, thus qualifying as a "certified historic structure."
You can request designation of your building a "certified historic structure" by completing and submitting Part 1 of the Historic Preservation Certification Application.
Learn more about the NPS application process.
- The rehabilitation must be substantial.
The project must meet the "substantial rehabilitation test."
In brief, this means that the cost of rehabilitation must exceed the pre-rehabilitation cost of the building, minus the cost of the land, or, in the case of the state tax credit, half of the cost of the building without the land. Generally, this test must be met within two years or within five years for a project completed in multiple phases.
The cost of a project must exceed the greater of $5,000 or the building’s adjusted basis. To qualify for the state tax credit, the cost of the project must exceed the greater of $5,000 or half of the building’s adjusted basis. The following formula will help you determine if your project will be substantial:
A - B - C + D = adjusted basis
A = purchase price of the property (building and land)
B = the cost of the land at the time of purchase
C = depreciation taken for an income-producing property
D = cost of any capital improvements made since purchase
For example, Mr. Jones has owned a small Victorian rental cottage for a number of years. He originally purchased the property for $150,000 and, of that purchase price, $70,000 was attributed to the cost of the land. Over the past years, he has depreciated the building for tax purposes by a total of $41,000. He recently replaced the air conditioning system at a cost of $1,500. Therefore, Mr. Jones’s adjusted basis is $40,500 (or 150,000 - 70,000 - 41,000 + 1,500).
Mr. Jones intends to spend $50,000 to install a new roof, repair rotten siding, upgrade the wiring, and rebuild the severely deteriorated front porch, which will qualify as a substantial rehabilitation project. If he completes the application process and receives certification from the National Park Service that the rehabilitation meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, then Mr. Jones will be eligible for a 20% federal credit on the cost of his rehabilitation, or a $10,000 credit and a 25%, or $12,500, state credit.
If Mr. Jones spends between $20,251 and $40,499, greater than half of the adjusted basis of the building, on the rehabilitation, he would qualify for the 25% state tax credit if he completes the application process and receives certification from MDAH that the rehabilitation meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Some expenses associated with a project may not qualify for the tax credit, such as a new rear addition, new kitchen appliances, and landscaping.
Learn more about qualified expenses.
- The rehabilitation must be certified.
The rehabilitation work must be done according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
A certified rehabilitation is a rehabilitation of a certified historic structure that is approved by NPS as meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The Standards are commonsense principles in non-technical language about maintaining, repairing and replacing historic materials, as well as designing new additions or making alterations.
Part 2, Description of Rehabilitation, of the tax credit application must be approved by the National Park Service when applying for federal and state credits. Applicants are advised to obtain Part 2 approval prior to beginning work.
- The building must be income producing.
After rehabilitation, the historic building must be used for an income-producing purpose for at least five years. Owner-occupied residential properties do not qualify for the federal or state rehabilitation tax credits.
The 20% federal credit and 25% state credit are available only to properties rehabilitated for income-producing purposes, including commercial, industrial, agricultural, rental residential or apartment use. The credit cannot be used to rehabilitate your private residence.
To qualify for the tax incentives, property owners must complete the appropriate part or parts of the Historic Preservation Certification Application.
The Statement of Intent should be submitted with the application. When applying for both federal and state credits, the NPS forms should be used for Part 1 and Part 2 of the application. To apply for state credits only, the state application form should be used.
For more information email Katherine Anderson, tax incentives coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 601-576-6940.
Tips for Having Your Project Approved
- If possible, do not begin work until receiving Part 2 approval for the project. If work must begin before that time, make sure to submit your application as early in the process as possible.
- Provide photographs that clearly document interior and exterior conditions before the rehabilitation project begins. Include views of each exterior elevation and all major interior spaces, typical minor spaces, and significant details such as porches, mantelpieces, staircases, etc. Photos must be labeled, printed on photo paper and a photo key indicating where each photo was taken must be provided.
- Describe the project clearly and completely. Provide plans that illustrate the existing conditions and configuration of the building before the project and the proposed alterations.
- The National Park Service has an excellent web site devoted to this tax credit. Read and follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Certified Local Government Grant
In 2019, MDAH awarded more than $75,000 to preservation projects in ten different Certified Local Government Communities. The Certified Local Government Program is a federal-state-local partnership that promotes historic preservation at the grassroots level and helps communities deal with preservation needs.
Each year the MDAH allocates funds for individual CLGs through a competitive application process. Check back for details about the next round.
CLG communities in compliance with the federal regulations are eligible for annual matching grants to undertake small preservation planning projects of importance to the community. Grants may be used for such diverse projects as the restoration of historic buildings; historical, architectural, or archaeological site inventory work; preparation of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places; educational programs; and staff support for new historic preservation commissions.
For more information contact the CLG Grant Administrator, Lydia Charles, at 601-576-6903 or email@example.com.
Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program
More than $46 million has been awarded to 338 projects through the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program since its inception in 2001. This grant program provides much-needed funds for the restoration of schools, courthouses, and other Mississippi Landmark properties in Certified Local Government communities.
Guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: CHPG Application. Applications are currently closed and will reopen later this year. For more information call 601-576-6940.
Historic Site Preservation Grant Program
In 2021, the Legislature authorized the creation of the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Grant. The grant provides funds for the protection through acquisition of sites related to Civil War battles, Native American archaeology, and Civil Rights history. These funds will allow endangered and significant properties to be preserved.
Guidelines and applications may be downloaded from the following link: HSPG Application. Applications are currently closed and will reopen later this year. For more information call 601-576-6940.
Mississippi’s historic preservation program is financed in part with federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior and matched with state funding.