Second Quarter Newsletter
April 2020
From the Executive Director

Dear Members and Friends,

I hope you and your families are safe and healthy. Although our traditional spring events were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our work to save historic places continues. On March 11th, the same day Arkansas reported its first positive case of COVID-19, I met with our Congressional Delegation in Washington, DC during National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week. It was a worthwhile trip, and I was thankful to get home safely.

Since then, we have provided technical assistance to many owners of historic properties, including the Centennial Church Foundation board as it considers options for Centennial Baptist Church at Helena after the church suffered severe storm damage on Easter. We've also assembled the 2020 list of Arkansas's Most Endangered Places, which will be announced virtually on May 1st and highlighted throughout the month of May in observance of Arkansas Heritage Month and National Preservation Month. And we are brainstorming on new ways to engage with you remotely. Read below to learn about an upcoming educational opportunity available through Facebook Live.

In these uncertain times, Preserve Arkansas's mission is more relevant than ever. Our work to preserve Arkansas's unique history told through our historic buildings, structures, and sites creates shared bonds of friendship and a sense of place that can help us get through this together.

Thank you for your support and take care,
Rachel Patton
Executive Director
2020 Most Endangered Places Announcement Goes Virtual
Preserve Arkansas will announce its 2020 list of Arkansas's Most Endangered Places on Friday, May 1st. Executive Director Rachel Patton will make brief remarks and reveal the list that day at 10 AM on Facebook Live. A press packet and high-resolution digital photos will be available on the Preserve Arkansas website immediately following the announcement, and each property will be featured on social media throughout the month of May.
Federal Preservation Priorities
National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week took place on March 10-12 in Washington, DC. Executive Director Rachel Patton met with Arkansas's Congressional Delegation to encourage their support on several issues, including:
  • Full funding for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), which is authorized at $150 million each year and comes from off-shore drilling revenues. The HPF provides critical funding to support State Historic Preservation Offices (our Arkansas Historic Preservation Program) as well as competitive grant programs. Take Action: Ask Congress to support full funding for the HPF in FY2021!
  • The Historic Tax Credit Growth & Opportunity Act (H.R.2825 / S.2615), which would add value to the Federal HTC by eliminating the basis adjustment, increasing the credit from 20% to 30% for projects under $2.5 million in QREs, and making credits for small projects transferable as a tax certificate. Many thanks to Congressmen Hill and Westerman for co-sponsoring this legislation! Take Action: Ask your Rep. and AR Senators to co-sponsor!
  • The Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422), which would provide up to $9.5 billion in dedicated funding over a 5-year period to address the deferred maintenance backlog in our National Parks, which now stands at $12 billion, nearly half of which is attributed to historic resources. This bill would also fully and permanently dedicate $900 million per year already being deposited in the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect and conserve our public lands. Thank you to Senator Boozman for co-sponsoring this legislation! Take Action: Ask our Senators to vote for S.3422!

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, preservationists expect Congress to consider additional pieces of economic relief legislation in the coming months and are working to ensure that preservation incentives are included to encourage community investment and create jobs. Stay tuned for more info.
Statewide Advocacy Updates
On Easter Sunday, strong thunderstorms caused major damage to Centennial Baptist Church at Helena, one of 16 National Historic Landmarks in Arkansas. Last week, Preserve Arkansas communicated with the Centennial Church Foundation board, local stakeholders, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, and the National Park Service to gather information and offer guidance as the board considers next steps for the site. Learn more here.

The Perry Depot's relocation was completed in late February. Last week, the Division of Rural Services granted permission to reallocate almost $2,000 in leftover grant funds for emergency roof repairs. Fundraising is now underway for the remaining roof work. Preserve Arkansas continues to provide administrative support on this project. Learn more here.

Beginning in fall 2018, Preserve Arkansas arranged for pro bono legal representation for the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission to fight an appeal of its decision in circuit court that would have set a dangerous legal precedent for commissions throughout the state. We're happy to report that the appellant agreed to dismiss the case in February 2020. A new owner has enrolled the historic building in question in the City's Model Block program.

The Scipio Jones House in Little Rock was damaged by fire earlier this year, a result of the house being abandoned and unsecured. After including the house on our Most Endangered Places list in 2019, Preserve Arkansas has assisted with complex title issues and recently engaged the Little Rock City Manager's office to secure the front and back doors with plywood.

The 1944 "Beebe Colored School" is the last remaining school in White County constructed for the instruction of African American children during the era of segregated education. Preserve Arkansas recently facilitated the transfer of the property to the City of Beebe and assisted with the preparation of National Register/Arkansas Register eligibility forms.

Each spring, Preserve Arkansas coordinates a sign-on letter to the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council in support of increased funding for grants to rehabilitate historic county courthouses. We are currently collecting signatures from county judges throughout the state for this important program.
Facebook Live Educational Event:
Preservation, Pints & Panels with Seal Solar on April 30th
Grab your favorite happy hour beverage next Thursday evening and go to Preserve Arkansas's Facebook page to listen and interact with Heather Nelson from Seal Solar! "Preservation, Pints & Panels with Seal Solar" is your opportunity to hear from the expert about the benefits of solar energy, installation of solar panels on historic buildings, and financial incentives available to help with set-up costs. This Facebook Live event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and last about an hour. We look forward to seeing you virtually next Thursday!

Cyrus Sutherland Scholarship Awarded
Each spring, the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design presents a $1,000 scholarship to a student in the architecture program who has demonstrated an interest in historic preservation. Funding for this scholarship comes from the Cyrus Sutherland Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas Endowment, created in 1989 to honor the late Cy Sutherland, professor emeritus of architecture and pioneering preservationist, managed by Preserve Arkansas. Although the scholarship award ceremony was cancelled this year, we are pleased to announce that Ms. Shavanna Dean received the 2020 scholarship. Congratulations!
Preserve Arkansas is the only statewide nonprofit advocate for the preservation of Arkansas's historic and cultural resources. Our organization works to build stronger communities by reconnecting Arkansans to our heritage and empowering people to save and rehabilitate historic places. Become a member today !