Preservation Maryland works at the federal, state, and local level to influence the policies, programs, and funding mechanisms that make preservation and smart growth possible. Advocacy remains one of the primary activities of the organization because of the dramatic scale of its impact.

Current 2020 Priorities

Rather than just saving one building, aggressive advocacy gives us an opportunity to save thousands of buildings.

Advocacy is in Session! At the start of the 440th Session of the Maryland General Assembly in January 2020, Preservation Maryland stands poised to continue to be the voice of historic preservation and smart growth in Annapolis. The following advocacy issues represent our current portfolio of active efforts. Each issue presents itself with an opportunity to get involved – and each urgently requires donor support to make them a success.

Support our Advocacy Work

Contact Elly Cowan, Director of Advocacy

Historic Revitalization Tax Credit

The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program. Senator Katie Fry Hester and Delegate Stephanie Smith are introducing The Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020 (SB978/HB862) that will strengthen this effective community redevelopment tool.


As of FY20, Maryland invested only $9M in the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program for the year for the entire state. By comparison, Virginia invests nearly $100M annually, and West Virginia invests $30M. Maryland is falling behind. Preservation Maryland and our supporters have worked diligently to make policy changes to strengthen this essential revitalization tool. Unfortunately, without more funding for the program, those positive changes have little opportunity to make the intended impact for communities across Maryland.


We recognize the positive impact that historic preservation projects can have for the surrounding community and the state as a whole. The Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020 (SB978/HB862) would:

  1. Increase funding for the program to $15 for FY 2022, followed by a stepped increase to reach full funding at $30M in FY2025,
  2. Allow the state Historic Tax Credit to be transferred outside of development partnerships to help decrease the cost of completing projects and provide an additional financing option for preservation redevelopment. This would go a long way to offset the damaging impact on community redevelopment the change to the federal Historic Tax Credit that came out of recent tax reform has had and costs the state nothing, and
  3. Extend the authorization of the program through 2028.

Preservation Grant Funding

Maryland’s preservation grant programs had gone completely unfunded since FY10. Because of our advocacy, in FY18, funding was restored to the Capital and Non-Capital grant programs. Current funding continues at starvation level, with the need far outstripping available funds. We must and will do more to support those safe-guarding our state’s rich and unique history.


  1. Capital Grant Program
    Current Funding: $600k
    FY21 Capital Request: $600k
    This program funds capital upgrades and repairs to certified historic structures owned by non-profits and local governments. It is operated as a competitively-awarded program with statewide reach and impact.
  2. Non-Capital Grants (Planning & Research)
    Current Funding: $300k
    FY21 Operating Request: $400k
    This program was previously funded via the state operating budget. This program awarded competitive grants for architectural and archaeological research, survey and documentation, public education, and planning projects. The program directly supported local government efforts to preserve places important to their constituents.

African American Heritage Grant Funding

The African American Heritage Grant Program provides direct grant support for capital (bricks-and-mortar) upgrades and repairs to sites representing Maryland’s African-American historical experience. As with the Capital and Non-Capital Grant programs, the funding requests for this program are consistently greater than the available funding.

CURRENT African American Heritage Grant Funding: $1M

Smart Growth Legislation

Southern Maryland rapid transit Project

(SB105/HB205) Over the last 25 years, the state has completed five major studies on the feasibility, need, and economic impact of high-capacity, fixed route transit service to Southern Maryland, and despite the conclusion of every study repeatedly confirming that the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project would vastly improve the quality of life for Southern Maryland residents, promote economic development consistent with smart growth, and advance the State’s emissions reduction goal, the Maryland Department of Transportation has not moved forward with the project. SB105 would require the State to complete the necessary steps to complete the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project and commit the necessary funding.

Local Consent of Toll Road Construction

(SB229/HB292)This legislation would extended an authority currently only granted to eastern shore counties, which would require that local governments approve of state toll roads before their construction in their jurisdictions. Toll roads have the potential to significantly impact growth patterns, and often historic resources, making this legislation a priority for the smart growth and preservation community alike.

Program Open Space

In 1969, the Maryland General Assembly created Program Open Space through the institution of a transfer tax of .5% on every real estate transaction in the state. Since then the program has been responsible for:

  • 319,000 acres of open space for state parts and natural resource areas,
  • Creation and funding of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and heritage area grants,
  • More than 6,100 individual county and municipal parks and conservation areas,
  • 31,000 acres of local park land,
  • 31 Rural Legacy Areas, preserving 77,000 acres,
  • 286,000 acres of farmland under Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation easement.

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is funded by Program Open Space. Preservation Maryland supports full funding of Program Open Space and the Heritage Area Authority, opposes any attempts to shortcut, reduce, or cap the program in any way, and we support the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.

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Advocacy Updates

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The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority will hold a virtual public hearing in mid-April, rescheduled from the originally planned in-person meeting this month, to hear a request to expand the geographic boundaries of the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area.

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The 441st Session of the Maryland General Assembly came to an abrupt close on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. As Maryland and the rest of the nation grappled with the outbreak of COVID-19, leaders in Annapolis decided to adjourn the legislative session early – something only done once before 159 years ago, on the eve of the American Civil War.

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No aspect or corner of Maryland’s economy will be unscathed by the economic downturn caused by the current pandemic and it is critically important that Maryland’s museums and historic sites are supported as the nation plans for recovery.

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As Maryland and the rest of the nation grapples with the outbreak of COVID-19, leaders in Annapolis have decided to adjourn the legislative session early – something only done once before at the height of the secession crisis.

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Preservation Maryland is in the midst of one of its busiest legislative sessions, with the organization championing several key bills and testifying on many other important pieces of legislation.

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In late January 2020, in coordination with Maryland Women’s Legislative Caucus, Preservation Maryland organized a special event with leading suffrage historians in Annapolis to commemorate and share the multi-dimension history of the passage of the 19th Amendment.

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The economic impact of historic preservation have been highlighted in two newly released reports.

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Following the Washington County Planning Commission’s decision to clear a pathway for the demolition of several significant structures, Preservation Maryland issued the following statement:

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Smart Growth Maryland is supporting much-needed legislation concerning land acquisition introduced by Senator Ron Young of Frederick County, a longtime champion for responsible planning, sustainable communities, and historic preservation.

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The Maryland Board of Public Works recently approved funding for the acquisition of conservation easements across Maryland through the state’s Rural Legacy Program.

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Advocacy Issues

Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit

In Maryland, tax credits for rehab projects have revitalized communities statewide, saved thousands of historic buildings,  and created billions in state revenue.

Smart Growth

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns.

Program Open Space

Thanks to this program, nearly all Marylanders are just 15 minutes away from a state, local park or public open space.

Maryland Heritage Areas

Promoting and enhancing the history of Maryland is a big job – and one that fuels one of the state’s most important industries: Heritage Tourism.

Federal Issues

Federal agencies oversee key funding programs and policies that protect America’s historic resources from needless destruction.

State Grants

State funding for preservation benefits all Marylanders – and has saved historic resources from Oakland to Ocean City.

State Agency Funding

Several key state agencies are charged with protecting Maryland’s history – a job that requires adequate resources.

Local Incentives

All across the state, local governments have realized the value of a well-preserved community and many offer lucrative programs to assist with rehab efforts.

Main Street

Main Street Maryland’s traditional downtown economic and cultural districts are the cornerstones of local communities throughout the State of Maryland.

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