Ames Main Street District Listed on National Register of Historic Places  

The nomination to list a part of downtown Ames on the National Register of Historic Places, many years in the making, has been accepted by the National Parks Service.  The designation covers 81 properties in the historic commercial district from Duff Avenue to Clark Street, between the railroad tracks and 5th Street.  Click here to see the entire nomination. 

“Having our downtown district designated on the National Historic Register has many benefits to downtown property owners and business owners,” said Drew Kamp, Executive Director of Ames Main Street. “From tax credits to tourism, this recognition will bring many positive things to downtown Ames.”

The National Register of Historic Places was established in 1966 and is part of the National Park Service’s program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to protect America’s historic and archeological resources. To date, the register includes more than 90,000 properties in almost every county across the United States.

Getting listed on the register is the first step toward eligibility for various federal and state preservation tax credits, which have so far leveraged more than $45 billion in private investment and National Park Service grant programs.

The Main Street Cultural District (MSCD) worked with Iowa State University (ISU) Assistant Professor in Community and Regional Planning, Dr. Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock,  who teaches historic preservation classes at ISU and sits on the Preservation Iowa Board of Directors, and ISU student intern, Robert Skalecki, to complete the nomination started in 2011 by the city of Ames.  Dr. Gloria Betcher, Ames City Council representative for ward one, which includes the downtown district, provided consultation for the nomination.  Dr. Betcher was part of the original team, led by historian Will Page, who started the nomination process in 2011.  Betcher is also a former board member of Preservation Iowa.


MSCD received a state grant for $3,000 to complete the nomination in 2016, which was matched by the City of Ames.

“The city council was happy to partner with the Main Street Cultural District to complete this survey, which has been a long time in the making,” Betcher said. “Getting the downtown placed on the National Register of Historic Places will open up opportunities for historic preservation tax credits that can help fund much-needed building improvements.”

The state historic tax credit program offers a fully refundable and transferable tax benefit for up to 25 percent of the qualified rehabilitation expenses of historic buildings, while the federal tax credit is 20 percent.

The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office also administers the County Historic Property Tax Exemption Program in partnership with County Boards of Supervisors.

The program offers a local property tax incentive for the sensitive “substantial rehabilitation” of historic buildings. It includes a 4-year “freeze” on property tax increases, followed by increases of 25 percent per year for the following four years to adjusted value post rehabilitation.


Additional benefits include:

·         National recognition of the value of the properties to the nation, state of Iowa and community.

·         A tool for local planning, heritage tourism and education.

·         Provides for review of any federally licensed, financed or assisted projects to determine its effect on historic properties.

·         Eligibility for federal and/or state income tax credit. (more details below)

·         Provides qualification for federal assistance for historic preservation (such as planning and rehabilitation), when funds are available.

However, listing on the National Register of Historic Places:

·         Does not ensure preservation or protection of a historic property.

·         Does not restrict a property owner’s private property rights or require that properties be maintained, repaired or restored; however, significant modifications may result in removal from the register.

·         Does not affect the use or sale of private property.