Protect Your Modern House and You Might Get a Nice Income Tax Deduction

I know what Cristina Ross should be doing on January 14. Ms. Ross, you may remember, is the New Canaan architect who bought Philip Johnson's Alice Ball House for about a million and a half dollars, renovated it, put it on the market less than a year ago for three million, and now wants to tear it down.

On January 14 there are two meetings in New Canaan at which she can learn how she might be eligible for a nice income tax deduction if she protects the house with a historic easement. the money she saves in income taxes might be enough to let her keep the house on the market for a while longer, until a buyer appears who appreciates the house's historic value. Amy Grabowski of the Glass House sent me the media alert. Here's part of what it says:

This workshop will explain how to use preservation and conservation easements to protect historic properties in Connecticut and surrounding areas, using the abundance of New Canaan modernist buildings as a case study. Open to homeowners, real estate agents, historical societies, and preservation organizations across the state of Connecticut, this workshop will share the common components of easements, what to expect as the owner of an easement property, and what potential tax benefits are associated with the donation of an easement.

Representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, and Historic New England, will provide information on their preservation easement programs. Following the presentation, there will be a Q + A session as well as one-on-one consultations with participating organizations.

The meetings are at the New Canaan Historical Society. There's an afternoon session and an evening session. The hosts are the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, New Canaan Historical Society, the Northeast Office of the National Trust, and the Philip Johnson Glass House. RSVP to Marty Skrelunas, the Glass House, 203.594.9884 or

I happen to work for an organization that uses conservation easements as the foundation for its land preservation work. I can attest that when the conservation values are legitimate and well-documented, the tax deduction allowed by the IRS can be significant. I assume the situation is the same for an easement that protects a historic house.

I hope Cristina Ross and lots of other in New Canaan (and why not Pound Ridge, which has its own supply of modern houses) think about taking advantage of it. -- TA

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