Your first step in determining eligibility for CPA historic preservation funds

January 2016: When a Community Preservation Committee (CPC) receives a project application for the acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation, or restoration of a historic resource, there are many steps to determining if the project is eligible.  One of the first steps is to determine whether the asset that will receive CPA funding is on the State Register of Historic Places, a prerequisite to receiving CPA funding.

CPC can easily check to see if the historic resource in question is listed on the State Register of Historic Places by using the online Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System (MACRIS). (If it is not listed on the State Register, then the CPC or the project proponent must request a determination hearing from the local Historic Commission on the significance of the resource to the history, culture, archaeology, or architecture of the community.) 

Here are some simple steps to get you started:

1. Visit http://mhc-macris.net/ and click the link toward the bottom of the page that reads “Click here to begin your search of the MACRIS database.”
2. Read through the disclaimer on the next page and acknowledge that you have done so by clicking the link.
3. Double-click on your community’s name in the town list on the left. It will then be moved to the list on the right. When you have selected your community’s name and other filters, click “Next”.
Please note that if you select only the community’s name then you will see all of the results for your community, though you can narrow your search by neighborhood or street name. Sometimes narrowing your search may  eliminate helpful results.
4. The next page lets you filter by resource type. Keep in mind that the less specific you are, the more results you will see. Decide on filters and click “Next”.
5. This page shows you the search results. Look at the “SR” column at the top of the table. If a property has the “SR” marked in  the appropriate row, then that property is in the State Register of Historic Places and would be eligible for CPA funding.
6. You can click on the “Inv. No.” column for additional information about the property. 

A couple of tips for using the MACRIS database:

Try not to enter any dates or rely on dates provided as they sometimes span decades.
Bear in mind that just because a property is listed in the State Register, that does not necessarily mean a proposed project  would be an allowable use of CPA funds.
MACRIS does not contain information on archaeological sites.
The MHC adds new records to the database on a daily basis.
The MHC does not guarantee the accuracy of the database. 
If a property is listed in the database but does not have the “SR” column marked, then it is not listed on in the State Register and you will need to request a significance determination from your local Historic Commission in order to use CPA funds for any  type of acquisition, preservation, rehabilitation, or restoration of the property.

If you have trouble using MACRIS there is a hard copy of the State Register of Historic Places on file with every local Historic Commission. You can also contact the Massachusetts Historical Commission at (617) 727-8470 or mhc@sec.state.ma.us

Further Resources

>> Click here to access the MACRIS database.

>> To learn more about qualifying for historic preservation CPA funds, see our article, "Which Historic Projects Qualify For CPA Funding? Examining The Procedures You Must Follow For Historic Appropriations."