Senate Bill 3035, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), was signed into law on October 15, 1966, and is the most far-reaching preservation legislation ever enacted in the United States. The intention of the NHPA was to preserve historical and archaeological sites; create the National Register of Historic Places; create the list of National Historic Landmarks; and, create State Historic Preservation Offices, including the Kentucky Heritage Council, a government agency now under the Cabinet for Tourism, Arts and Heritage.
This landmark legislation has been critical to the preservation of our national and state heritage, and has helped save thousands of historic treasures, neighborhoods and landmarks throughout our country. Preservation Kentucky, a nonprofit public charity founded in 1999, has long shared a symbiotic relationship with the Kentucky Heritage Council to preserve Kentucky’s historic buildings, cultural landscapes and archaeological resources.
Over the years, preservationists have found a wide range of creative solutions to address challenges through legislation like the NHPA, sheer will and determination. Significant time and effort has been given to list Kentucky properties on the National Register of Historic Places, ranking us 4th in the nation for NR listings, with each structure becoming eligible for federal or state historic rehabilitation tax credits.
Since the 1980s, tax credit programs have made a significant impact in Kentucky, leveraging millions of dollars in private revitalization spending and placing hundreds of buildings back on the tax rolls and into service. The Heritage Council developed the nation’s first statewide Main Street Program in the 1970s, supporting more than 100 Kentucky communities by providing a grassroots structure to revitalize their struggling downtowns. More than $76 million in public and private investment was leveraged through the Main Street Program last year, and almost $4 billion since its inception in 1979.
Today, Kentucky is successfully preserving our heritage and positively impacting our economy through heritage-related tourism. Our historic horse farms, historic bourbon distilleries and other tradition-based visitor attractions are high-performing elements of our local and state economy.
Through the years, Preservation Kentucky has worked closely with the Kentucky Heritage Council on many endeavors through sponsorships and hands-on organization, co-presenting conferences and trainings; promoting historic preservation in downtown development, heritage tourism, community revitalization and quality of life; and taking the lead in championing the establishment of the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit and its improvements.
Together, with dedicated volunteers, organizations and preservationists throughout the state, we have established a movement with far-reaching educational value, billions of dollars in economic impact, and observable benefits to the Commonwealth’s cultural identity. Our tangible heritage is a big part of our collective future, and it is our job to continue providing these services and forging important relationships to work together and preserve our precious, irreplaceable heritage.