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Easements


The library at historic Oxmoor Estate in Louisville

Preservation easements are some of the strongest tools preservationists have to protect historic resources.

An easement is a legal agreement that assures a property’s historic character will be preserved into perpetuity, by placing restrictions on development or changes to a property or historic site and then transferring these restrictions to a qualified organization charged with ensuring protection and enforcement of the restrictions. A property may include a historic building or group of buildings, a parcel of land, or a combination of both. Qualified organizations can range from the state historic preservation office or other government agency to nonprofits whose mission includes historic preservation,  conservation, or environmental protection.

The easement remains with the property whenever ownership changes hands, binding not only the current owner but all future owners as well. In some cases, an owner who donates a historic preservation easement may be eligible for tax benefits.

The Kentucky Heritage Council currently holds 77 preservation easements independently, and co-holds 15 additional easements with other groups and state agencies. KHC also assists with 99 other easements held solely by other agencies or organizations.

Ashland C&O Depot, constructed in 1906

The Kentucky Heritage Council has received easements from a variety of sources including the National Park Service, Civil War Trust, or as part of the federal agreement for grants awarded through Transportation Enhancement or ISTEA funding or programs like Save America's Treasures. Easements may also be granted as private donations by Kentucky citizens concerned with protecting Kentucky's rich history. Easements protect these investments by individuals, government agencies or private organizations by outlining appropriate and acceptable changes that will not destroy a property's tangible connection to Kentucky's past.

Easements have also been given to KHC from private landowners, nonprofit groups, municipal governments, or left to the state in a will. Many of the single-family homes continue to be used as private dwellings, while others have been converted into museums showcasing an important historical event or person at the local, state and/or national level. The larger buildings such as public warehouses or train depots have been adaptively reused and are now offices or event spaces.

Camp Nelson earthworks dating from the Civil War

For more information about easements, check out Easements to Protect Historic Properties:A Useful Historic Preservation Toolwith Potential Tax Benefits, published by National Park Service Technical Preservation Services.

If you are a property owner with an easement held by the Kentucky Heritage Council and would like to propose changes, click here for the Easement Application for Proposed Changes to Property to submit a request. For proposed changes to historic architecture, please refer to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties for guidance when developing plans. If your easement includes stipulations regarding ground disturbance, please contact KHC's Site Protection Director Nick Laracuente with questions.

If you are interested in or have questions about a historic preservation easement, contact Diane Comer, Site Development Program manager, at (502) 564-7005, ext. 4477.

Thank you for helping protect Kentucky's historic resources!