Friday, August 26, 2016

An Internship in Historic Tax Credits: Macon, Georgia

Hi Everyone!

My name is Sara Doll and I am the new Historic Preservation Graduate Assistant.  I am originally from Southwest Kansas and a town that is probably smaller than most high schools.  I have two Bachelor degrees, one in History from Sterling College, Sterling KS and second one in Anthropology/Archaeology from Wichita State University, Wichita KS.  I am in my third semester here at SEMO working on my Masters in Public History with an Emphasis in Historic Preservation.  

I recently spent the summer working in Macon, GA at Historic Macon Foundation (HMF).  The main focus was over the exciting topic of tax credits!  Yes, I used the word exciting.  Most, myself included, would not classify tax credits as all that interesting of a topic, but after my internship there are few words to describe how fundamental tax credits can be to historic preservation.  Macon definitely had seen its better days during the mid-1900s but like a majority of cities it fell into decline and up until less than ten years ago
Macon was not the ideal city one wanted to live in.

Historic Macon Foundation
Sara Doll poses on the porch of a historic structure in Macon, Georgia
HMF is becoming a model for preservation in the nation.  They have helped to take commercial, industrial, and residential places from notices of demolition to places that are in high demand.  I was a part of seeing the process that each of these places underwent to become their final product.  Macon is made up of 14 historic districts listed on the National Register and currently working on a new one.  These district listings allow for tax credits to be used towards contributing buildings.  This is key to the success of HMF and their mission to “revitalize our community by preserving architecture and sharing history.”  They see the importance of constantly improving Macon and helped me to see that even if a neighborhood looks rundown and little hope that there is always a beacon of light. By beginning work in an area and showing the potential that the neighborhood has to offer is a great first step in revitalization.  However, it is not as easy as that sounded.  HMF is constantly in communication with the local businesses and colleges to create addition incentives to move into a place.  Not only will an individual get the tax credits but in most cases there are low income neighborhood incentives, down payment assistance, protection convents, and inclusive activities being a member of historic Macon.

During my internship, I was able to experience an array of projects dealing with tax credits and working with each step of the tax credit process in Georgia.  I was assigned my own project over a shotgun that would begin work within the next year.  My supervisor, Kim Campbell, at HMF helped guide me through the process and made sure to answer any questions or provide a different wording for Part 1 and 2.  We also put together information for an Industrial Tour with the hopes of printing a brochure this Fall.  There was extensive amount of research done between myself and my fellow intern over 23 individual properties and their history.  It really helped us learn about Macon’s past and we were able to share some new information with Maconites who had lived there their whole lives not knowing. 

Working with HMF was a great first-hand experience how historic preservation meets public history.  Even though many consider them to be the same, they each benefit from each other.  It was amazing to see how preserving the built environment could have such an impact on the community as a whole and flaming the spark that was started less than a decade ago.  

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