Onward….to the Good Stewardship of Historic Roudebush Farm

The former Roudebush farmhouse.

The former Roudebush farmhouse at 8643 Kilby Road, Harrison Township, Ohio.

Roudebush Farm–described in detail in my last blog post–is a circa 1870 farmstead in northwestern Hamilton County, Ohio hoping for a new owner (MLS# 1386447). The farm is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (Ref #76001449) and notable for its well preserved farmhouse, schoolhouse (now a two-bedroom residence), and original barn (the barn is not part of the property being sold). There is also a deed restriction on the property for sale that was specifically put in place to preserve and protect the qualities that caused the property to be listed on the National Register in 1976.

A question that immediately comes to mind is what exactly does this mean for the new owner?

The former schoolhouse.

The former schoolhouse.A question that immediately comes to mind is what exactly does this mean for the new owner?

Well, this is what a National Register listing by itself gets you:

A National Register listing does NOT lead to public acquisition of the property, does NOT require public access, and does NOT automatically trigger local historic district zoning or local landmark designation. A National Register listing DOES get you prestige, a nice plaque (if you so desire), and the following:

1) Consideration in planning for Federal, Federally-licensed, and Federally-assisted projects (maybe that highway interchange won’t end up blowing past your front porch after all!);

2) Eligibility for special tax provisions such as a 20% investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures such as commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings;

3) Qualification for Federal grants for historic preservation (when funds are available, of course).

4) And–if it is privately owned–freedom to maintain, modify, remodel, renovate, or dispose of the property as you wish provided that no Federal monies are involved.

A bedroom in the farmhouse.

A bedroom in the farmhouse.

The implication of privately owning a National Register listing is rather cut and dry, however when you add a deed restriction–as is the case here–it becomes a little more interesting.

When a National Register listing is privately owned (or any other historical property that someone values and wants to preserve for that matter), one way to ensure good stewardship for future generations is the use of a deed restriction. A deed restriction, or restrictive covenant, is a provision in a property deed that limits what can be built on a property, or how that property can be used. Deed restrictions “run with the land,” meaning they apply to all future owners of the property, not just the person who owns it when the restriction is adopted.

Property deeds are a matter of public record. Here is what the deed restriction for Roudebush Farm deed restriction states:

The formal parlor room.

The formal parlor room.

Both maintenance and any rehabilitation of the historic farmhouse and schoolhouse will be done in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. In addition, no demolition, alterations, or physical or structural changes shall be made to the architecturally and/or historical significant interior or exterior features of the farmhouse and schoolhouse without prior consultation of the Ohio Historical Society acting through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.

So what are those significant interior or exterior features of the farmhouse and schoolhouse–keeping in mind that the restriction was added to preserve and protect the property’s National Register qualities?

The significant features of the farmhouse and schoolhouse include all of the buildings’ remaining nineteenth century elements, such as the windows, window treatments, exterior architecture, interior woodwork, original floors, parts of the formal parlor that made the property unique when it was listed on the National Register in the first place, etc.

The main staircase and hallway in the farmhouse.

The main staircase and hallway in the farmhouse.

Does this mean that future owners could not change anything or make updates to the buildings at all? Rooms oftenmost targeted by new homeowners–the kitchen and bathrooms–come to mind here…

They can make changes, if they so desire. The deed restriction does not say that they can’t, only that they need to consult with the Ohio Historical Society first. And, there are certain aspects to the property that would not require consultation at all. For example, we can definitely say that the 1960-ish kitchen and bathrooms–although interesting in their own right and once obviously in style–are definitely not significant nineteenth century elements.

A bathroom.

A bathroom.

They are instead what historic home owners affectionately term “remuddles” and certainly not features significant in terms of the property’s National Register status. Perhaps kitchen and bathroom re-dos more period to the home’s beginnings will be in its future?

The farmhouse's kitchen.

The farmhouse’s kitchen.

Entrance to another bathroom on the second floor.

Entrance to another bathroom on the second floor.

Does all of this sound like too much for a new owner of Roudebush Farm to take on? I do not think so–not for the right owner, the one that falls in love with the place and who will deeply appreciate its history.