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The Massachusetts Historical Commission - Charles Eliot Award

The Massachusetts Historical Commission celebrates its 60th anniversary and is a 2023 Charles Eliot Award recipient! Over the 60 years since its establishment in 1963, the Massachusetts Historical Commission has had an impressive list of accomplishments.

With 79,000 listed historic properties and 1,750 historic districts, Massachusetts ranks second in the nation in listings in the National Register of Historic Places.

The MHC’s statewide Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth today includes over 250,000 properties and sites.

The Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System (MACRIS) and its companion GIS site MACRIS Maps, provide quick, searchable web access to information on historic properties in MHC’s files for research, public agencies, local preservation planning, compliance with federal and state regulations, and for the interested public.

Since 1994, the MHC has administered 29 grant rounds of the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), supporting bricks-and-mortar projects for 782 significant public and non-profit owned historic properties in 256 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Over $67 million in MPPF grants have supported a total investment of over $134 million in restoration work.

Through its annual Survey and Planning Grants program, the MHC has passed though over $8.7 million in matching Federal funds to over 450 local projects that expended over $17 million for historic properties surveys, National Register nomination, community preservation plans, studies, publications and staffing to support preservation planning activities throughout Massachusetts.

In the 20 years since the start of the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, 720 rehabilitation projects have been completed utilizing over $700 million in state historic tax credits. Empty mills, shuttered institutional buildings, and abandoned school buildings have been converted to residential housing, creating thousands of affordable units in the Commonwealth. In addition to adding to the Commonwealth's housing stock, the state historic rehabilitation tax credit projects have created thousands of temporary and permanent jobs. Historic buildings at risk of demolition have been saved and given a new life. Each year the MA Rehabilitation Tax Credit program grows with increasing numbers of applications to the program. Coupled with the Federal Historic Investment Tax Credit, the MA Rehabilitation Tax Credit has become an important tool in saving historic buildings around the Commonwealth.

The National Park Service and IRS administer the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program in partnership with the MHC. This program is the nation’s largest federal incentive through private investment in the revitalization and reuse of historic buildings. Massachusetts ranks high in the nation in the number of projects and the amount of private investment. In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, 74 projects were completed through the program in Massachusetts. The National Park Service's Federal Tax Incentives for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2022 prominently featured the rehabilitation of the historic Worcester County Courthouse. Both State and Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits supported the redevelopment of the historic Courthouse, which had sat vacant since 2007, into a residential building with tenant amenities. The project retained five complete courtrooms, historic furniture, judges' benches, counsel tables and lecterns along with original signage, doors, hardware, plaster ornamentation, wood trim and terrazzo flooring. The project received multiple awards.

As the State Historic Preservation Office, MHC continues to review over 2,500 federal a year for potential impact to historic resources. Under state law, the MHC also reviews over 8,000 state projects a year for potential adverse effects to historic properties and sites.

Congratulations to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, its commissioners, staff and directors, past and present. We thank you for your service.


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