NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A historic tobacco warehouse, which has been refurbished into a retail store and meeting spot, is the perfect place for about 100 Preservation Texas members to gather.
The non-profit organization is dedicated to historic preservation across the Lone Star State. The East Texas regional meeting chose Nacogdoches because of the example the city sets.
"There are a lot of places that we could go and have a meeting," said Evan Thompson, the executive director of Preservation Texas. "Nacogdoches has historic resources. It had a venue like this building. The Fredonia Hotel. Very few cities in Texas still have historic hotels in the downtown where you can go and stay."
Both restoration projects are revenue-generating examples historians point out when pushing for preservation funding.
"What's been a powerful argument to the legislature is that historic preservation is a really significant economic development tool," Thompson said.
Christina Anderson of Marshall knows this first hand.
"We live in a home that was built in 1845 and have worked with others on the restoration of the Harrison County Courthouse and the Hotel Marshall built in 1929," Anderson said.
Both preservation projects bring heritage travelers to Marshall.
"So we know the importance of historic preservation. We know how important it is to economic development in a town, in a region. And we have such incredibly rich history in East Texas," Anderson said.
Anderson candidly points out that, "historic preservation is not for the faint of heart". Refurbishing costs like those seen at the historic Clay House in Nacogdoches can be overwhelming. The Lewis Hotel in San Augustine faces the same problem. Both are African-American historic landmarks on Preservation Texas' Most Endangered Places list.
"Because of the attention that we bring to buildings on our endangered list, it gets other people interested and involved," Thompson said.
Most notably, the state legislature authorized a preservation tax credit against the state franchise tax or against the insurance premium tax in 2013. Add it to a federal tax credit and preservationists receive significant tax breaks.
"Forty five percent of the cost of the project available as a tax credit is an incredible incentive, particularly for big buildings," Thompson explained.
Non-profit preservation projects also qualify for tax credit certificates that can be sold to a taxpayer.this creates an income stream.
The tax incentives led to tax credit projects jumping from a dozen a year to over one hundred a year, pleasing the preservationists who work to save historic places.
For more information go to http://www.preservationtexas.org/ and for tax incentive information go to http://www.thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and-programs/preservation-tax-incentives/texas-historic-preservation-tax-credit.