top of page

Historic Conservation Easements

A historic conservation easement – a legally binding agreement – protects a historic property
from activities detrimental to the property’s historic integrity, including: neglect,
demolition, and insensitive alterations. A historic conservation easement allows the
owner to retain title and use of the property and also ensure its long-term preservation.
Typically an easement includes the property's exterior envelope and airspace above,
but may include interior features.

Eligible properties are either:

  • Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

  • Contribute to a National Register Historic Districts

  • A locally-designated landmark

  • Determined to be eligible for the above by the Oregon State Historic Preservation

Office or the local preservation ordinances.


  • Protection of a donor's interest in preserving their heritage.

  • Preservation of the owner's rehabilitation investment of time and resources.

  • Tax savings for the owner of a National Register of Historic Places listed property.

  • Reduction in estate, gift, and capital gains taxes.

  • Improvement of the community through long-term preservation of a significant landmark.

  • Long-term professional assistance with technical preservation issues.


Contact PreservationWORKS! about your interest to launch a dialogue:

The easement document includes the property's legal description, site plan, identifies property
elements covered by the easement, specifies restoration and maintenance requirements, and
photo documents the property’s existing condition. The owner and the PreservationWORKS!
review the draft agreement and agree on any mutually acceptable changes.
PreservationWORKS! charges a modest application fee. Additional costs may include an
appraisal fee, filing fee, and potential expenses related to documentation and easement

Once an easement is placed on a building, PreservationWORKS! annually monitors the
property to ensure the easement requirements are met and the building is properly
maintained. Owners must allow property access for annual monitoring.


Anyone considering an easement donation should obtain solid tax and legal advice specific to
their circumstances.

Interpretive Sign Program

Interpretative signs:

  • Illuminate the power of place and inform the public of a site's historic, cultural, or
    architectural significance.

  • Inspire a feeling of stewardship in site visitors, strengthening awareness of cultural resources.

  • Demonstrate community pride in local heritage.

  • Provide a consistent, convenient interpretive experience without staff or facilities – 24/7/365.

  • Enhance visitors' impressions of a unique history and identity of a site, city, or region.

Installation of an interpretive sign at Charles Gaylord House – 600 NW 7 th Street – is in
progress. Future installations will depend on the significance of the site, community support,
adequate research, and funding.

Preparing Effective Testimony

Importantly, PreservationWORKS! provides testimony for the City's quasi-judicial Historic
Resources and Planning Commissions, and City Council. Testimony requires a working
knowledge of our Land Development Code, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Corvallis vision
statement. The Land Development Code alone weighs over 15 pounds in two large D-ring
binders, so there is plenty to read and research! We also provide testimony for the Benton
County Historic Resources Commission, when needed.

Providing testimony is a significant component of our volunteer work. Crafting effective
testimony is time consuming, but worth the effort because we provide thoughtful, accurate
information. Decision-makers then have all the facts before they deliberate on changes to
designated historic resources, or develop projects that impact neighborhoods.

Helpful hints to Preparing Effective Testimony:

  • Know the hearing process. Many people find a public hearing intimidating. You may want to consider attending another Historic Resource or Planning Commission or City Council hearing ahead of time, so you know what to expect.

  • Know testimony expectations. Contact city staff to determine what type of testimony will be accepted and when. Often written testimony may be submitted before the public hearing and included in the decision-makers hearing packet.

  • Know what you want to say. Be sure of your facts when presenting or preparing testimony. Research the applicable sections of your code and base your comments on the requirements. Stick to the issues and criteria of the application.

  • Use your own words. You will be more comfortable and effective when using clear, direct language. Don't feel you need to use legal jargon.

  • Be complete, but concise. Decision- makers are generally overloaded with information. They appreciate short, concise comments.

  • Be courteous and polite. Personal attacks toward any participant, (those managing the meeting, staff, applicants, or any audience members), draw away from the important points you wish to provide. Plus it is impolite and erodes your credibility.

  • Distribute copies of your testimony. If you are providing oral testimony, it is helpful to the hearing participants to review a copy or outline of your comments. This is a good strategy for maximizing limited time at the podium. Some testifiers deliver a shorter oral version of longer written testimony that they distribute.

  • Consider visual aids. Visual aids may be useful. Contact staff ahead of time if you need a projector. Make sure your visual aids are appropriate and readable. As an example, a local architect successfully illustrated the need to reduce the height of an apartment development with computer-generated images of how the proposed building height would cast a shadow on an across-the-street church and church school. In Corvallis, our Land Development Code requires new construction to maintain a minimum threshold of solar access on existing structures. By using images of existing and proposed building heights, decision-makers could readily preview the solar effects building height would create. Technology allows us to demonstrate in visual terms what decision-makers of the past would have to imagine.

Other helpful hints

  • Arrive early. Sometimes agendas change and you will want to be sure you are there and prepared in case of last minute adjustments.

  • Maintain eye contact with the hearing body, not the staff, applicant, or audience.

  • Speak clearly into the microphone so your testimony can be heard and accurately recorded.

  • Avoid reading your testimony from a script. Aim for a conversation with the decision-makers.

  • State agreement with another’s comments, instead of repeating information already adequately addressed.

  • Thank decision-makers for their consideration of your testimony and the opportunity to speak.

  • Invite questions, if any.

Successful Grant Writing

Be a good grant reader. Write for the person(s) who will be reading and evaluating your
request. Be kind to these readers and their time dedicated to grant review, evaluation and


  • Assemble a supportive – and skilled – grant team. Grant-writing is comprehensive work. Share the tasks of research, materials gathering and technology. Know one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Call upon one another when – not if – you bog down. That said, one person should be the grant writer, so a consistent writing style flows through the application.

  • Do your homework; research; research; research.

    • Invest your time developing a grant that the agency wants to fund.

    • Match the mission – or the funding policy – of the agency with your own. Do not ask a funder to underwrite an activity outside their scope.

    • Match any required demographics.

    • Study the past funding record of the agency. Be sure your financial needs are practically within the range of previously supported programs or activities.

    • Determine if your project will be completed within the agency’s grant timeline. If necessary, phase your work and your requests.

  • Start early. There’s almost never enough time to do an outstanding proposal, so begin early. As you work through the process, questions will arise, and you will need time to find answers.

  • Work closely with your own organization’s project partners. Be sure you understand the request thoroughly.

  • Keep boilerplate materials on hand, so you can take advantage of opportunities when they unexpectedly arise. Include:

    • History of the organization

    • Board member list

    • Board and staff bios

    • 501(c)(3) Determination letter

    • Annual budget

    • Articles of Incorporation

    • Brochures

    • Annual Reports.


  • Read the application and directions carefully; keep them handy. You will read and re-read them again and again throughout the process.

  • Create a checklist for yourself of grant-related tasks. When materials are collected or portions of the application are completed, check it off. This will help you manage the proposal writing process and builds incremental points-of-arrival. 

  • Introduce yourself to your prospective agency. If you have questions that you cannot answer by studying a web-site, call your contact. They will appreciate hearing from you, and you will cultivate a supporter within the organization, who is familiar with you, your organization, and your proposal.

  • Be sure you meet the eligibility requirements.

  • Follow directions. This is the single most important consideration in grant writing. Each agency structures applications in the way that best suits the agency. Respect that.

    • Answer the application’s questions directly and succinctly.

    • Submit an application in the manner required.

    • If appropriate, send supporting materials that strengthen your request, but don’t overload your reader.

  • Write and re-write your application.

    • Write concisely; stay on subject; persuade; maintain your sense of humor.

    • Use 12 point font.

    • The thesaurus and dictionary are a successful grant writer’s good friends; use them.

    • Use active voice.

    • Edit – a lot. If you craft some eloquent prose that doesn’t quite fit, save it for another project. Cut to the bare bones of your concept.

    • Proofread. A typo may not preclude an award, but booboos reflect poorly on you, your proposal and your organization. Use your spell- and grammar-checkers and a non-vested experienced editor.

    • Significantly, describe the unique quality that distinguishes your project from all others. This is the Stand-out-from-the-crowd component. Find it; celebrate it!

  • Build a realistic, balanced budget. Estimated expenses must equal estimated revenues.

    • Secure bids and estimates as appropriate. This will take time – see Start Early above!

    • Think through the entire project and note questions as you go. Answer the questions with line items as appropriate.

    • Include line items the agency will fund.

    • Some items may be conjectural numbers. This is the crystal ball part of grant writing. For example, you cannot know how many people will participate in your event. Build an informed guess based upon past history and attendance, either for your event or someone else’s.

    • Match the budget narrative and budget page – exactly.

  • Match. Some agencies accept in-kind match in addition to cash matching funds. As an organizational practice, track your volunteers’ hours and out-of-pocket expenses, particularly for specific projects. The number of hours people give will surprise you, and citing these time gifts builds credibility for your proposal. 

  • Format strategically. If everything is in bold, nothing stands out. Use changes in fonts and point sparingly for maximum effectiveness. Use tables, pie charts, etc., to provide clarity where appropriate.

  • Leave it alone. Let your proposal sit (ferment, rest) and return to it another day. You will have fresh insights, and you will read your language with fresh eyes. You will edit better.

  • Meet the deadline in the manner required. Better still, submit your application before the deadline. Consider proof of delivery if appropriate to assure yourself the application arrives promptly.


  • Celebrate victories large and small. When advised of success, share your good news with your team, planning partners and board. Issue a press release as an opportunity to tell your organization’s continuing story.

  • Learn from denials. Visit with your agency contact about how to improve an application in the future.

  • Complete the project. Do what you promised to do!

  • Submit a final report. Most agencies require a final report that demonstrates you invested their funds in the manner you promised. Complete the final report in a timely way. While this may be a contractual obligation, courtesy alone is a good reason to keep agencies advised of your activities. Build a stronger relationship with your funder by demonstrating the effectiveness of their investment in your organization.

  • Acknowledge the funder early and often. Some agencies require specific language and manner of public acknowledgment of their generosity. Honor their gift.

Cultivate the Media

The press sells stories.  If you have a story to tell, the press wants a story to sell.  Treat them as a partner.  Keep them informed of small victories; keep your story fresh.  For all the current emphasis on social media, in our community, the print media remains the community bulletin board.  It is where people go when they seek information.  Elsewhere electronic media is key.  These suggestions would apply to both.


Identify the staff that covers your issues.

  • Regularly send them press releases about your activities, programs or projects.  If they have room for your story, your information is then readily available.  The written press release will be changed and edited, but you have better control of the message with a written release than with a phone conversation.

  • Include a photo if you can; credit the photographer and identify anyone who appears in the photo.

Advocacy Results for PreservationWORKS:

  • The board's highest priority was reducing the rate of demolitions for historic – if not designated – resources.

  • Corvallis no longer burns old buildings as a fire training exercise.

  • We have stronger parking standards for five bedroom homes with the net effect of reducing the size of townhouse developments as more parking must now be offered on site.

  • Developers no longer may calculate the total square footage of their lots by measuring to the center of the street.  This process falsely expanded the lot surface area and allowed construction of buildings with footprints larger than permitted by using just the lot dimensions.

  • City Council administratively changed demolition permits to require applicants to attempt to sell the property, photo document each facade of a building and its place in the streetscape, relocate the structure, or salvage building materials, before demolition occurs.

  • The Livability Code was adopted that protects tenants from unsafe living condition and also prohibits demolition by neglect.

  • The Historic Resources Commission will supervise the development of Corvallis first historic preservation plan.


bottom of page