Historic Preservation Resources

To produce new building materials, it requires a huge amount of fossil fuel to extract natural resources, manufacture the products, and then ship them around the world.  Therefore, the greenest building material is often the one that already exists in your own neighborhood.  Preserving an old, solidly-built house is a very sustainable thing to do!

To help you find information about historic preservation and restoring your old home, we’ve gathered some great resources.  If we’ve missed any good ones, let us know in the comments!


National Trust for Historical Preservation – This privately funded nonprofit organization works to save America’s historic places.  202-588-6000

National Park Service – They join forces with Indian tribes, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, private citizens, and other partners, to build trails and playgrounds, return historic buildings to productive use, revitalize neighborhoods, expand affordable housing, protect watersheds, recognize and promote local history, and introduce the next generation to stewardship opportunities and responsibilities.  202-619-7000

toh-header-logoThis Old House – You may be familiar with the TV show, but it’s also a magazine and a website with an incredible amount of information.  Many Forklift Fans have found answers to obscure questions by asking folks on the discussion groups on the website.

Washington, D.C.

dc preservation league logoD.C. Preservation League – The League seeks to preserve, protect, and enhance the historic built environment of Washington, D.C., through advocacy and education.  Particularly valuable to homeowners is their list of contractors, which includes experts in archeology, architecture, masonry, roofing, paint, windows, glass, and iron work.  Keep an eye on their calendar, and don’t miss their lectures on how to research the history of your home, or their “Homeowner Toolbox” events, where you can get one-on-one advice from contractors and preservationists.  202-783-5144

The District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office – They offer useful information for homeowners, including how to research the history of a property, community preservation resources, advice about permits and design guidelines, and information about financial assistance, tax credits, energy assistance, and easements.  202-442-7600

Historic Washington Architecture – An email forum for people interested in the history and preservation of Washington DC.  Discussion is encouraged on a wide range of issues, and postings include information on local and national conferences, tours, classes, and other events.

The Committee of 100 on the Federal City – This group advocates responsible planning and land use in Washington, D.C. The committee is guided by the values inherited from the L’Enfant Plan and McMillan Commission, which give Washington its historic distinction and natural beauty, while responding to the special challenges of 21st century development.  The organization serves local communities, nonprofit groups and other organizations in DC by offering pro bono consultation on historic preservation, land planning and architectural design issues. Recent work with communities includes technical advice on historic property designation, assisting the formation of citizens’ groups, and support of citizens’ groups and initiatives through awards, recognition and public testimony.  202-681-0225

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts – Within the District of Columbia community, the Commission advises on design matters affecting the Historic District of Georgetown, as well as other private sector areas adjacent to federal interests.  202-504-2200

chrs-logoCapital Hill Restoration Society – Their website has a list of resources for restoration projects, including community groups, developers, other preservation groups, news publications, and environmental groups. Don’t miss their annual Hill House and Garden Tour each Mother’s Day.  202-543-0425

The L’Enfant Trust – The L’Enfant Trust, Washington, D.C., was founded in 1978 to preserve and protect Washington’s historic communities.  The Trust’s main programs are its nationally recognized conservation easement program, which protects more than 1,130 historic structures, and its revolving fund program that focuses on the acquisition and rehabilitation of distressed historic buildings to positively impact community revitalization.  Find useful resources for home owners on their Preservation Links page.  202-483-4880

Cleveland Park Historical Society – This nonprofit society lists great resources on their website, including a link to repairing windows, and offers this useful book:  “Cleveland Park:  A Guide to Architectural Styles and Building Types.”

Tenleytown Historic Society – This volunteer group represents the neighborhoods around Friendship Heights and American University along with Armesleigh Park, Wakefield, Mount Airy, and North Cleveland Park. They regularly hold programs, tours, and events to celebrate people, places and events of both local and citywide interest.


preservation marylandPreservation Maryland – Members of the state’s oldest historic preservation organization have access to a lot of resources: tours, workshops, newsletter, renovation fairs, and a directory of tradespeople.  They also provide small grants to nonprofits for restoration projects, and advocate for laws that promote preservation.  Check out their links for historic property owners http://www.preservationmaryland.org/resources/historic-property-owners/, including resources on windows and weatherization.  410-685-2886

Maryland Historical Trust – Their website offers a great overview of all of the financial and technical assistance available to property owners in Maryland.  410-514-7600

prince george's historical society

Mount Calvert, headquarters of Prince George’s Co. Historical Society

Prince George’s County Historic Preservation Staff – Historic preservation staff members support the Historic Preservation Commission, and provide advice to historic property owners on property maintenance and preservation.  They also maintain a resource library that has files on all documented properties, and produce historic preservation plans and publications on community history and development, architecture and architectural history, and design guidelines.  301-952-3680

Prince George’s Heritage, Inc. – The official advisory organization of the Maryland Historical Trust in Prince George’s County.  Its grants program supports preservation, education, and restoration projects.

Prince George’s County Historical Society – 301-220-0330

Montgomery County Historical Society – 301- 340-2825

Montgomery County Historic Preservation Office – Supports the Planning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission by providing for the identification, designation, and regulation of historic sites in Montgomery County.  Historic Preservation staff also maintains an archive and library of documentation on historic resources in Montgomery County and provide preservation outreach and guidance on preservation best-practices to the public.

hpa logo

Historic Takoma – they have programs and special events throughout the year for kids and adults.  Activities include walking tours, an oral history project,  searchable archives, and redevelopment and restoration planning.  301-270-2831

Hyattsville Preservation Association – They conduct meetings and seminars on various topics throughout the year, including home design and repair, oral histories, gardening, and tax credit seminars.  Become a member to receive discounts from local contractors and suppliers (including Community Forklift).  Their Hyattsville Historic District Style Guide is an excellent overview of local architecture, and their Annual Historic Hyattsville House Tour is not to be missed.  301-699-5440


Virginia Department of Historic Resources – the state historic preservation office supports the stewardship of Virginia’s significant historic architectural, archaeological, and cultural resources.  804-367-2323

Preservation Virginia – Founded in 1889, this nonprofit organization has an extensive list of  resources. In addition to browsing real estate listings for historic properties, you can search their online directory to find contractors, craftsmen, materials and preservation related services for your historic property.  804-648-1889

Arlington County Historical Society

Fairfax County Historical Society

Restoration Companies

There are many companies in the region who have experience in restoring older homes.

*  A great way to start searching is to ask for recommendations from neighbors on your community’s listserve.

*  If you have a locally-owned hardware shop in your neighborhood, you might want to ask the shop employees about the tradespeople they deal with – do they have some favorite customers who are always organized and polite?

*  It’s also wise to attend local home and garden tours.  Often the homeowners on the tour are happy to talk about who they used for their renovations, and how easy or difficult it was to work with them.  If you are curious about making your old home more energy efficient, don’t miss the Solar & Green Home Tours coming up in early October!

*  Then, before you start discussing your project with a tradesperson, check out our tips and resources for hiring a contractor.

*  One way to know if someone shares your values is to ask if they are willing to donate your unwanted materials to Community Forklift.  These two companies, for example, are quite proud to support building materials reuse:

DC Historic Designs, LLC – They offer a wide range of services related to architectural history, preservation, restorations, and rehabilitations, and historically appropriate new designs for older buildings. A recent donation to the Forklift was a beautiful vintage bar that had served as a reception desk in an apartment lobby.  202-596-1961

Go Green Deconstruction – Go Green offers an alternative to wasteful demolition practices.  Whether it is deconstructing and recycling a house, or providing construction and waste removal for a renovation project, they can help you divert up to 90% of your waste away from the landfill – and thanks to the tax deductions for donating to Community Forklift, the process can be as gentle on your wallet as it is on the environment.  703-336-9545