Merging Preservation and Planned Giving
Preservation Easement Program
Land Trust Alliance, Exchange Article – Volume 23, No. 1, Winter 2004
The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (“Landmarks”) in Pennsylvania merged preservation and planned giving in one innovative transaction that began in 2001 with the creation of a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) that named Landmarks as its sole, irrevocable beneficiary.
Lucille Tooke, a longtime Landmarks member, owned the historic property that was given to the CRUT. Hidden Valley Farm in Pine Township, Pennsylvania, was built in 1835 by Lewis Ross and his wife, Temperance. Now most of the land surrounding the farm has been developed. Tooke told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the thought of her farm one day becoming part of the suburbs “made me shudder.”
Tooke and her husband, Jack, had bought the 64 acre farm in 1954. After her three daughters moved away and her husband died, it became increasingly difficult for Tooke to care for the farm, so she approached Landmarks to see if they knew of anyone interested in buying and preserving the property. Landmarks helped Tooke work out a plan wherein she gave the farm to a CRUT, received a charitable deduction for a portion of the property’s value, and now receives a percentage of the trust’s value each year until 2021.
When the trust put the farm up for sale, Landmarks was able to match the highest bid and buy the farm, creating the cash needed to generate Tooke’s income payments. Landmarks added deed restrictions that require future owners to get prior approval from the organization before altering the house’s exterior. They also stipulated that the land cannot be subdivided or used for non-agricultural commercial purposes. They then sold it with the security of knowing it will be protected in perpetuity.
The arrangement provided Tooke with needed retirement income and when her payments end in 2021, Landmarks receives the trust balance as a gift to its endowment program.
Jack Miller, director of planned giving at Landmarks, said that during the process, Landmarks had to figure out how to keep all of its roles straight, being both beneficiary and buyer. “In the end we accomplished what both we and Mrs. Tooke wanted: to preserve this beautiful farm in the midst of rapid development.”