Financial Incentives and the Adaptive Reuse of Historic Interiors: Three Case Studies from Iowa
Historic preservation is old enough to have a history: it is hardly a new phenomenon today. However, the preservation of historic interiors, which forms a significant component of historic preservation, is becoming a complicated aspect and receives much less emphasis in the academic literature. Given the situation that historic interiors are widely mistreated and less studied and considering the popularity of adaptive reuse in the United States, this paper will investigate how the procedures and outcomes of the preservation of historic interiors are impacted by different factors, especially the opportunities and constraints imposed by financial incentives. This paper first focuses on the theory and practice of historic preservation in the United States and then looks into three adaptive reuse case studies in Iowa. Compared to the often-idealized recommendations made in regulations and official preservation guidelines, this research provides more practical recommendations by looking at the compromises inherent in preservation projects and the sacrifices made by different actors in order to make historic interior spaces usable for today’s needs.
The findings reveal financial incentives’ positive influences on decision-making process, overall project quality, and interior treatments, the limitations and freedoms provided by regulatory processes and the interiors evaluation. Recommendations suggest a more flexible tax credits system should be adopted by providing a more flexible approach, a sliding scale to guide the rehabilitation process, which also takes into account the conflicts over aesthetics, energy-saving potential, and safety issues.