So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.’
— Luke 12:18, New King James version
Ulster County’s proud historic heritage dates back to when its barns served as storehouses for its grains and winter shelters for its animals. Many of these impressive structures remain familiar features of the landscape even in the increasingly post-agricultural age. But their numbers have been dwindling from benign neglect. Who wants to pay property taxes on a structure that is infrequently used?
New York State’s preservationists, who find historic barns worthy of their love, are applauding a 25 percent state tax credit for restoration of barns built before 1945 to productive use or as places for small businesses such as craft breweries, event spaces, and the like. The bill sponsored by assemblymember Didi Barrett and state senator Michelle Hinchey was signed into law by governor Kathy Hochul last week.
“Historic preservation is a pivotal strategy for rural revitalization, and by instituting the Historic Barn Rehabilitation Tax Credit we are making it more affordable for New Yorkers to save these beloved buildings from disrepair and explore new uses in agritourism, arts and culture,” said Hinchey in a press release. “This incentive will help preserve thousands of historic barns across rural and upstate communities, allowing us to trace back New York’s rich agricultural heritage, boost community pride, and capitalize on valuable opportunities to revive local economies.”
“Our team at the Preservation League hears directly from historic-barn owners more than any other type of property owner, and the renewal of the barn tax credit will provide a much-needed resource,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League of NYS. “The historic barns that dot our landscape provide a tangible link to our state’s agricultural past, but they also represent opportunities to revitalize communities — either through adaptive reuse or reinvestment in agricultural uses.”