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Preservation Easements Donated to PHLF: Protecting Historic Properties in Perpetuity

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) is one of the only “qualified organizations,” as defined by Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code, in southwestern Pennsylvania to accept ­donations of preservation easements to ensure that a historic property is protected in perpetuity. Since 1979, PHLF has accepted more than 40 easements.

What is a Preservation Easement?

A preservation easement is a legal agreement between a property owner and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) that places permanent, mutually agreed to restrictions on a historic property to protect it from inappropriate alteration, development, and destruction. Preservation easements protect the conservation values defined in the legal agreement and baseline documentation, and may extend to a building’s façade, a building’s entire exterior, air space above a building, interior spaces, and/or open space and landscaping. Generally, the legal agreement states that no changes will be made to the historic property that are contrary to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, without the prior written consent of PHLF.

The legal agreement is recorded in the local recorder of deeds office and binds both the current owners and all future owners. PHLF inspects its preservation easements on at least an annual basis by visiting each of the properties. It also has a responsibility to defend and enforce the preservation easement as may be necessary. Contributions are solicited to endow these perpetual costs and expenses.

Who Can Donate an Easement?

Any historic property owner may donate a preservation easement to PHLF. In the past, donors have included individuals, limited partnerships, for-profit corporations, and even non-profit organizations. PHLF has also received preservation easements as a condition to loan transactions, from the sale or acquisition of properties, and, in 2002, received a major grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to purchase preservation easements on historic farms.

PHLF’s Procedure for Accepting Easements

The first step to donating a preservation easement is to complete and return PHLF’s Preservation Easement Application Form. PHLF then reviews the application, meets with the applicant, and visits the site if necessary. The terms of the legal agreement are then negotiated, and PHLF drafts the preservation easement. The applicant reviews the legal agreement with his/her own attorney and/or tax advisors. PHLF staff present the preservation easement to the PHLF Easement Committee and/or Board of Trustees to review.

If approved, prior to closing the applicant obtains a survey, an appraisal, title insurance for PHLF, and other documentation as may be requested from PHLF in accordance with its Preservation Easement Policy, and PHLF puts together baseline documentation on the current condition of the property. When all prerequisites are obtained, PHLF and the applicant sign the legal agreement, which is subsequently recorded in the local recorder’s office. PHLF then monitors the preservation easement at least annually in perpetuity.

Benefits

The primary benefit of donating a preservation easement on a historic property is that the historic character of a property is permanently protected. Another benefit is that a federal charitable contribution deduction may also be available for the donation of a qualified preservation easement to a qualified organization, such as PHLF, if the donation complies with all of the requirements of Section 170(h) of the Internal Revenue Code and its regulations. These requirements include that (1) the property be listed on the National Register or be a contributing structure to a National Register-listed or certified local historic district; (2) public access be provided (visual access is sometimes sufficient), and (3) the easement be in perpetuity, among other things.

The amount of the charitable contribution deduction is equal to the value of the preservation easement as determined by a “qualified appraisal” completed by a “qualified appraiser.” PHLF recommends that all potential applicants seek advice from their own attorneys and/or tax advisors since PHLF does not provide tax or legal advice. This information is being provided as general guidance only.

Deed Restrictions Offer Protection

PHLF also holds deed restrictions on approximately 35 historic properties, including on the five former P&LERR buildings at Station Square; on houses in the Mexican War Streets, South Side, Manchester, and Natrona; and on a commercial building in Sewickley. Deed restrictions differ from preservation easements in that they last for a specific term of years (typically 99 years) rather than in perpetuity. Many of the deed restrictions also give PHLF a right of first refusal to purchase the property, prior to its sale.

For more information, contact the Easement Office at 412-471-5808.

The following information identifies the current building name (and original building name); dates of design/construction; the architect, if known; the donor of the preservation easement and date; and historic designations awarded. The donors listed are those included in the easement documents recorded in the local recorder of deeds offices.

City of Pittsburgh

Beechview

  • Lowen House

    311 Lowenhill Street, Beechview
    C. 1860
    Donor: Thomas G. and Christine M. Simmons; 1999
    City-Designated Historic Structure

    Lowen House

Downtown Pittsburgh

  • 900 Penn Avenue (Wm. G. Johnston & Company)

    900 Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh
    Deeds & Brothers, builder, 1885; remodeling, 1915
    Donor: 900 Penn Avenue, L.P.; 2014
    Penn-Liberty National Register Historic District; City-Designated Penn-Liberty Historic District

    900 Penn Avenue (Wm. G. Johnston & Company)
  • 413–415 and 417 Wood Street, Downtown Pittsburgh

    1883, refaced c. 1905; 1875
    Donor: J. R. Weldin Co.; 2011
    National Register of Historic Places District

    413–415 and 417 Wood Street, Downtown Pittsburgh
  • Burke's Building

    209–211 Fourth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh
    John Chislett; 1836
    Donor: Western Pennsylvania Conservancy; 2010
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque; City-Designated Historic District

    Burke's Building
  • The Carlyle (Union National Bank Building)

    300–306 Fourth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh
    MacClure & Spahr; 1906
    Donor: Spruce Street Properties, Ltd.; 2009
    National Register of Historic Places District; Historic Landmark District Plaque

    The Carlyle (Union National Bank Building)
  • Hartley-Rose Building (Hartley-Rose Belting Company Building)

    425–427 First Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh
    Edward Stotz; 1907
    Donor: First Avenue Partners; 1983
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Hartley-Rose Building (Hartley-Rose Belting Company Building)
  • The Waterfront Building (center)

    200 First Avenue & 217 Fort Pitt Boulevard, Downtown Pittsburgh (photograph of Fort Pitt Boulevard façades)
    C. 1870
    Donor: Colonial Partners; 1986
    National Register of Historic Places District; Historic Landmark District Plaque

    The Waterfront Building (center)

Fineview

  • Heathside Cottage

    418 Catoma Street, Fineview
    1855
    Donor: Judith K. Harvey; 2000
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Heathside Cottage

Hill District

  • Energy Innovation Center (Connelley Trade School)

    1501 Bedford Avenue, Hill District
    Edward B. Lee, architect; 1928-30
    Donor: Energy Innovation Center, L.P.; 2012
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Energy Innovation Center (Connelley Trade School)

Lawrenceville

  • Stable Building and Bath House

    3441 & 3445 Butler Street, Lawrenceville (30-year term)
    1888 (Stable); 1904 (Bath House)
    Donor: Lawrenceville Development Corporation; 1998
    National Register Eligible Historic District

    Stable Building and Bath House

North Shore

  • Heinz Lofts (five H. J. Heinz Company buildings)

    500 Heinz Street; 1020, 1026, & 1001 Progress Street; and 1026 River Avenue, Troy Hill
    H. J. Heinz Company, R. M. Trimble, and Albert Kahn; 1913–27
    Donor: Progress Street Partners, Ltd.; 2003
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Heinz Lofts (five H. J. Heinz Company buildings)

Shadyside

  • Mansions on Fifth Hotel (McCook House and McCook-Reed House)

    5105 Fifth Avenue, Shadyside
    Carpenter & Crocker; 1906, c. 1905
    Donor: Fifth & Amberson Holdings, LP; 2010
    National Register of Historic Places

    Mansions on Fifth Hotel (McCook House and McCook-Reed House)
  • Montgomery House

    424 Shady Avenue, Shadyside
    1877
    Donor: Arthur and Melinda Lubetz; 1979

    Montgomery House
  • Moreland-Hoffstot House

    5057 Fifth Avenue, Shadyside
    Paul Irwin; 1914
    Donor: Henry P. Hoffstot, Jr.; 2011
    National Register of Historic Places; City-Designated Historic Structure; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Moreland-Hoffstot House

Southside

  • Maul Building

    1700 East Carson Street, South Side
    1910
    Donor: 1700 East Carson Street Associates; 1985
    National Register of Historic Places District; City-Designated Historic District

    Maul Building

Strip District

  • Cork Factory Lofts (Armstrong Cork Factory)

    Railroad Street between 23rd and 24th Streets, Strip District
    Frederick J. Osterling; 1901, 1902; addition 1913
    Donor: Big River Development, L.P.; 2005
    National Register of Historic Places; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Cork Factory Lofts (Armstrong Cork Factory)

Allegheny County

Bridgeville

  • Neville House (Woodville Plantation)

    1375 Washington Pike, Bridgeville
    C. 1785; additions and alterations
    Neville House Associates, Inc.; 2007
    National Historic Landmark; Historic Landmark Plaque

    Neville House (Woodville Plantation)

Elizabeth

  • Van Kirk House and Farm

    337 Round Hill Road, Elizabeth
    C. 1840
    Donor: James A. and Dorothy A. Wycoff; 2003
    National Register of Historic Places

    Van Kirk House and Farm
  • Jonathan Wycoff Farm

    201 Park Avenue, Elizabeth
    Early nineteenth-century farmhouse with some details from c. 1758; additions c. 1823 and 1825
    Donor: Sara L. Wyckoff, as Executrix of Helen R. Wycoff; 2003
    National Register Eligible

    Jonathan Wycoff Farm

Gibsonia

  • Ross-Tooke House and Farm

    2073 Old State Road, Gibsonia
    C. 1835
    Donor: William Versaw; 2001
    Historic Landmark Plaque

    Ross-Tooke House and Farm

Sewickley Heights

  • Wilpen Hall

    889-895 Blackburn Road, Sewickley Heights
    George S. Orth, architect; 1899-1900; addition in 1925
    Donor: William Penn Snyder III; 2014
    National Register of Historic Places

    Wilpen Hall

Wilkinsburg

  • 811 Holland Avenue, Wilkinsburg

    C. 1890s
    Donor: Erin M. Cunningham; 2007

    811 Holland Avenue, Wilkinsburg
  • 516 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg

    C. 1890s
    Donor: John Cindric; 2008
    National Register of Historic Places District

    516 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg
  • 522 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg

    C. 1890s
    Donor: Dorothy Sielatycki; 2008
    National Register of Historic Places District

    522 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg
  • 524 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg

    C. 1890s
    Donor: Walter and Rachel Lamory; 2008
    National Register of Historic Places District

    524 Jeanette Street, Wilkinsburg

Beyond Allegheny County

Bedford County

  • Omni Bedford Springs Resort

    2138 Business 220, Bedford
    Resort: 1802–1806; 1829–1842, Solomon Filler; 1903, with additions
    Golf course (shown below): Spencer Oldham, 1895; A. W. Tillinghast, 1912;
    Donald Ross; 1923
    Donor: Bedford Resort Partners, Ltd.; 2005
    National Historic Landmark District

    Omni Bedford Springs Resort

Bulter

  • Harmony Museum

    218 Mercer Street, Harmony
    C. 1809, addition c. 1816
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009
    National Historic Landmark District

    Harmony Museum
  • Wagner House Museum Annex

    222 Mercer Street, Harmony
    Prior to 1812
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009
    National Historic Landmark District

    Wagner House Museum Annex
  • Log House

    245 Mercer Street, Harmony
    C. 1805–1807
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009

    Log House
  • Vinegar Hill

    1 Evergreen Mill Road, Harmony
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009

    Vinegar Hill
  • Ziegler-Wise Barn

    303 Mercer Road
    Harmony/Jackson Township
    1805
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009
    National Register Eligible

    Ziegler-Wise Barn
  • Harmony Society Cemetery

    831 Edmond Street, Jackson Township
    1805–1815
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009
    National Historic Landmark District

    Harmony Society Cemetery
  • Mennonite Meetinghouse & Cemetery

    114 Wise Road, Jackson Township
    1825; 1815 cemetery
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009

    Mennonite Meetinghouse & Cemetery
  • Bishop John Boyer House

    295 Perry Highway, Jackson Township
    1816
    Donor: Historic Harmony, Inc.; 2009

    Bishop John Boyer House

Greene County

  • Horner Farm

    Riggs Road, Greene County
    Farm dates to 1837; farmhouse c. 1875
    Donor: Duncan and Clare Horner; 2006

    Horner Farm
  • Hunnell Farm

    2248 Oak Forest Road, Waynesburg
    Donor: Charles Evans Hunnell; 2009

    Hunnell Farm

Washington County

  • John Roberts House

    225 N. Central Avenue, Canonsburg
    1798, 1804, 1809, c. 1840
    Donor: Washington County Cultural Trust; 2010
    National Register of Historic Places

    John Roberts House

Westmoreland County

  • Roaring Run Farm

    550 Sleepy Hollow Road, Donegal
    Donor: Jeremiah T. O’Shea and C. William Hausen; 2002

    Roaring Run Farm
  • John C. Plumer House

    131 Water Street, West Newton Borough
    1814, addition c. 1846
    Donor: Mon Valley Initiative; 2011
    National Register of Historic Places

    John C. Plumer House
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633