Resident Curatorship Program

Delaware State Parks

(302) 739-9186

FAQ

How does a Resident Curatorship work?
Why participate in the Resident Curatorship Program?
How are curators selected?
How will Delaware State Parks ensure that curators produce quality projects?
Who benefits from the Resident Curatorship Program?
So – what kind of money is available to potential curators to help out with the cost of repairs?


How does a Resident Curatorship work?

A resident curatorship is a public/private partnership in which the curator (which may be a couple) donates their own resources—time and/or money—to the restoration of an historic property in exchange for a long-term no-rent agreement. Because the cost to the curator is often much more than $100,000, the term of the lease is typically for the life of the curator(s). A curator is chosen from candidates that respond to a request for proposals on the basis of the proposal itself, on the financial ability of the proposed curator to accomplish the work proposed within a five year period, and on the related experience of the proposed curator or his/her contractor. The proposals are reviewed by a Resident Curatorship Committee composed of staff from the Division of Parks and Recreation and a representative of the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office. The work must meet federal guidelines for the treatment of historic properties in order to ensure that the historic character of the building is preserved. Once the curator begins the rehabilitation, the work is reviewed as it progresses by Division staff. After the rehabilitation is completed, the curator is expected to maintain the building in good condition so that at the end of the curatorship period, the Division resumes management of an improved historic property.
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Why participate in the Resident Curatorship Program?

For people interested in living in an historic house in a quiet setting, resident curatorships in Delaware State Parks have a number of benefits. First of all, their financial resources can be directed toward creating the home of their dreams without having to spend a lot of their money just to acquire the property. They can live in a (typically) rural setting on a manageable piece of land without worrying that they will be surrounded by modern tract housing. And … they will have the satisfaction of contributing to a worthy cause and giving something back to the community!
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How are curators selected?

Resident curators are selected on the basis of proposals submitted to the Division and reviewed by the Resident Curatorship Committee. Each proposal will be reviewed and ranked based on four separate elements:

  1. A written description of the planned renovations.
  2. A detailed work plan and cost estimate for completing restoration within a five (5) year period.
  3. Financial ability to complete the five-year work plan, based on a financial disclosure statement submitted as part of the proposal.
  4. Experience of the curator(s) or their contractor in completing one or more successful restoration projects, or other related experience.

Each element of each proposal will be reviewed and ranked separately, and the final decision will be based on a combination of these rankings as well as on the overall proposal.
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How will Delaware State Parks ensure that curators produce quality projects?

The first step in ensuring a quality project is the review of the proposal itself. In some cases, it may be necessary to negotiate changes in the final work plan. In addition, state park staff will review work in progress on a regular basis—quarterly or semi-annually depending on the pace of the project. The curatorship agreement requires that any deviation from the work plan be approved in advance by the Division, and that all work to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitation. The curator may be required to remove any unauthorized work. Finally, the curatorship agreement allows for termination of the agreement if the curator fails to meet the standards set by the Committee. The agreement also requires the curator(s) to maintain the property in good condition at their own expense throughout the period of the tenancy.
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Who benefits from the Resident Curatorship Program?

The curators, Delaware State Parks, and the public all benefit from resident curatorships! After the restoration, curators are able to reside in a historic house for the length of the curatorship – typically, for the lifetime of the curators. These homes are located on State Park land or natural resource areas, and as such, are protected from future development. Clearly the public benefits from the program as well. The historic structures are restored and maintained at no cost to the State. From a broader perspective, important and irreplaceable elements of Delaware’s historical and architectural heritage are preserved for the benefit of residents and visitors alike at no cost to Delaware State Parks – or taxpayers.
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So – what kind of money is available to potential curators to help out with the cost of repairs?
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Since the state maintains ownership of the structure, land, and any improvements, banks are not typically interested in making loans for this type of project unless the potential curator would have some other property to offer as collateral. Historic preservation grants may be difficult to qualify for as well due to the public nature of the ownership of these properties.

The most likely financial benefits may come through certain tax breaks that this Resident Curatorship program may provide for a curator. All of the improvements – including materials and labor – made to the property are considered a gift to the State of Delaware and as such would be considered tax deductible. In addition to that, there are some provisions made to gain additional tax credits for participating in Resident Curatorship programs. More detailed information is available on those Resident Curatorship tax credit incentives by contacting our State Historic Preservation Office using the information below.

Joan Larrivee
Delaware Divison of Historical & Cultural Affairs
Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer
21 The Green
Dover DE 19901
302-736-7400
Email: joan.larrivee@state.de.us


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For more information about the Delaware State Parks Resident Curatorship Program, please contact:

Jim Hall
Cultural Conservation Program Manager
Delaware Division of Parks and Recreation
152 S. State Street
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 739 -9186