Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is the state agency charged with preserving the buildings, sites, neighborhoods, and structures that constitute the state’s built heritage. The agency’s genesis can be traced to the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, which created a national preservation program, required state preservation activities, and provided funding for state historic preservation programs. Following a failed attempt to create a state program in 1967, the Arkansas General Assembly in 1969 created the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, funded by the transfer of $20,000 from the moribund Stonewall Jackson Memorial Board.
In 1969, the primary activities of the agency were those for which federal funds were available—the identification, evaluation, and documentation of historic properties. This effort comprises the Arkansas Register of Historic Places, the Arkansas Architectural Resource Survey, and the state’s listings on the National Register of Historic Places. The AHPP maintains the eleven-member State Review Board, which plays a part in survey and nomination activities as required by federal regulations. The 1966 act had also directed federal agencies to consider historic properties in project planning, a process in which AHPP began playing a consulting role.
In 1975, the agency was renamed the Arkansas Commemorative Commission, and a short time later became a division of the newly created Department of Natural and Cultural Heritage (which became the Department of Arkansas Heritage in 1985, and then, under Act 910 of 2019, the Division of Arkansas Heritage). In 1976, the agency received its first preservation easement, a document in which a property owner gives the agency the right, in perpetuity, to ensure that the historic appearance of a building or site is preserved. Over the years, the agency became responsible for monitoring and maintaining hundreds of preservation easements.
The agency took on more activities as federal programs were added, local programs emerged, and private interest in preservation grew. The agency began its mission to serve as a source of reference, information, and advice for constituents and others with questions about Arkansas’s architectural history or the technical or advocacy sides of preserving historic places. The agency also offers educational outreach programs, including tours, lesson plans, and lectures for adults and K–12.
In 1983, Act 633 established the current Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. In 1984, Main Street Arkansas—a program network offering design, business, marketing, grants, and other assistance for revitalizing historic commercial districts—was created and housed within the AHPP. With the initiation of the national Certified Local Government program in 1980, the agency began serving local government preservation programs with grants and technical assistance.
The agency administers the twenty percent federal tax-credit program in Arkansas, which returned, by 2016, more than $44 million in credits to rehabilitators of income-producing historic properties. A twenty-five percent state tax-credit program for work on owner-occupied and income-producing historic buildings was introduced in 2009, providing more than $15 million in tax savings. Between 1971 and 2016, the agency granted nearly $47 million for rehabilitation and restoration work on historic buildings. Other grant programs include the Courthouse Grant program, which granted more than $1,400,000 in 2016, and the Historic Preservation and Restoration Grant program, which granted more than $960,000 in 2016.
For additional information:
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/ (accessed September 8, 2020).
Division of Arkansas Heritage. http://www.arkansasheritage.com/ (accessed September 8, 2020).
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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