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Frequently Asked Questions
As a preservationist, we field many questions asked by the public.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

1.What is the difference between a National Register Historic District and a Local Historic District?

Though they may sound the same, there are important differences between National Register Districts and Local Historic Districts, in terms of protection, local oversight, and design reviews. Local districts and local landmarks are protected by Cedar Rapids Chapter 18 Ordinances. When applying for a permit to make changes to a historic property, the Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission reviews the COA and determines if follows the guidelines and then help you with the process. National Registered properties also have guidelines in becoming and remaining on the register, however, there are no safeguards they take to protect a property from altering the exterior of a landmark building.  There are however monetary advantages like tax credits for renovation purposes.  National Register of Historic Places has more information on different opportunities in assisting with grants.


2. What exactly is the National Register of Historic Places and what does it mean for my house/building?

The  National Register of Historic Places is the official list of sites in the United States that are deemed worthy of preservation and cites the significance that the building, site or resource has on the community, the state, and the nation. Listing on the National Register is achieved through a nomination process, overseen and administered in Cedar Rapids by the Cedar Rapids Historical Commission. Inclusion on the National Register is an honorary designation that allows the property to be eligible for historic tax credits and other funding opportunities. For more information on the National Register, what listing means and how to nominate a site, visit the.Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation Commission, (HPC) or contact a board member here at FCRHP.

For more information on other historic designations, you may want to research the following found under links.

  • Local Historic Districts / National Register Historic Districts

  • Cedar Rapids Historic Landmarks

  • National Historic Landmarks


3. Where can I find money to help preserve a historic building in my town?

There are a few sources of funding for historic buildings and landscapes in Cedar Rapids. Most are foundation grants and can vary in size and project type. Cedar Rapids has started a new program through the HPC where you can apply for a grant or no-interest loan based on the applicant's income level.

FCRHP in the coming months well is setting up a similar grant process designated for local districts and landmarks.   National Register of Historic Places has also had monies available for historical property owners.  


4. How can I find a preservation expert or contractor?

When restoring a historic property, it is important to find a contractor or renovator that has a historical back round.  There are guidelines set forth by the city to help a property owner correctly repair or replace architectural features such as siding, windows, or the ornamental details.  Always ask your contractor if he is aware of the historical guidelines.  If you are a do-it-yourself person and enjoy the process, Kirkwood now has classes that teach the proper application of restoration.  You can also contact Bob Grafton, board member of this non-profit, who has the expertise when it comes to repairing historic properties.  The city of CR may also be able to give you a list of qualified carpenters. 


5. What resources exist for historic homeowners?

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of monetary resources for private homeowners. However, there is a wealth of information online about how to maintain and protect your historic home, including ways to “green” your house. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a number of tips on their website, as does the National Park Service. Feel free to use Friends of Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation to get the expert advice you may need in order to keep your historic house intact for years to come!

6. I have a historic barn, what can I do with it?

Historic barns have come into the spotlight more over the past several years. The Cedar Rapids updated Chapter 18 has included barns, carriage houses, garages and other out-buildings under its guidelines for protection as it has become evident that numerous historic barns are threatened and many owners are unsure of where to turn for information and guidance. Limited funding opportunities exist, but visit the resource section of this website for more barn FAQ and other information.


7. I’d like to get more involved with preservation in my community. What can I do?

You can always volunteer with our non-profit or Save CR Heritage or your partnering through your donations go a long way in preservation.  It affords us to continue to offer hands-on classes, grants, and educational programs.  If you are a preservationist with a back round in the many facets of preservation, or a skilled carpenter with historic restoration back-round, you can always donate your expertise by helping FCRHP with our hands-on classes or speaking programs.

And finally, "TALK"!  When given the chance or opportunity to discuss preservation, be an advocate.  Conversation on any topic helps stimulate the process.


8. How can I learn more about historic preservation?

Education is always ongoing, for every preservationist. The internet offers a myriad of sites and organizations working in the preservation field.

Friends of Cedar Rapids Historic Preservation works with local partners on workshops and seminars.  There are wonderful how-to videos the topic of preservation and it's importance.  We have created a LINKS  page with many organizations dealing with preservation. We encourage you to browse the many links and discover the learning possibilities that they offer.  And again, open up the lines of communication with those who have knowledge in preservation.  When speaking with someone that has a love or desire, they are excited to share with you.  They have a vast knowledge waiting for you to tap into!


9. Is preservation really that important?

Yes, Yes, and Yes!  Preservation is important!   It has been said that architecture is one of our most fragile of all the arts. A building made of stone and steel is much less likely to survive longer than a poem or a painting or a symphony.  Many of the woods and other natural elements used for older structures are no longer available.  Many of the architectural features, like what you would see used in a Victorian home, are much too expensive to make.  These older buildings were made at a time when they were handcrafted, an art that almost does not exist today.  Many buildings need to protected to save their cultural stories.  Many of these structures were built for a pacific purpose or were called home to famous people, like Grant Wood, Austin Palmer, and even the Wright Brothers.  To preserve these beautiful structures for their architectural beauty as well as for their cultural history is vital for providing future generations the ability to hold on and learn from a vital piece of history through architecture.  So indeed, preservation is priceless.

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