Tax credit rejuvenates historic homes
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield is home to one commercial and four residential districts that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Among the city’s historic residential districts is the Pleasant Hill community that is filled with 75 stately homes, most of which were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of the homes reflect the Queen Anne architectural style popular then with decorative swags; large, sprawling porches; and classical gables.
One of the Pleasant Hill homes is the residence of Mike and Kris Coleman. While the structure is an impressive example of Marshfield’s history, Kris explained that the existing house is the result of much work, accomplished in part through Wisconsin’s Homeowners’ Tax Credit program.
“We’ve had to do a lot of work to bring it back to its former glory,” said Kris. “We purchased the house in 2007. I learned about (the tax credit) from the real estate agent when I purchased the home.
“We had always lived in old homes before, and we had done very similar work to what we are doing in this house, but the size of this house, … I would never have taken on a job that big without the tax credits because I know financially what it costs to do it.”
The tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction for what is owed in state income tax, crediting 25 percent of the cost in conducting the repair work.
“Each time you apply, you can do up to $40,000 in work and restoration on the home and receive up to $10,000 back. You can apply more than once, so you can continue on at each point in your restoration project. It can end up being a huge payback,” explained Kris.
“So if you are looking at a roof or some foundation work, which many of these older homes do need, those are perfect examples of how to use the program,” she added.
While many shy away from older homes, thinking new is better, Coleman said they may provide a cost savings due to their craftsmanship.
“We never use our air conditioning. We don’t have to ever,” said Kris. “Because we have high ceilings, big fans just like they did back then, we have huge windows that are always open with the breeze going straight through the house because the house was built in the right place to get the breeze to go through.
“These houses are built to be comfortable. You don’t need to lock them down and not be able to open them up. … Everyone says that these old house are so hard to heat. My heating bills are cheaper than anybody else’s I know.”
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society website, while the credit applies to homes listed in the State or National Historic Registers, homes outside of the registered districts and properties could also qualify.
Work eligible for tax credits includes exterior painting; roof replacement; repairs of exterior brick and stone, windows and doors, and porches; work on structural elements; and replacement of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.
Marshfield City Planner Josh Miller said that the state tax credit also provides a benefit to the city.
“Historic properties and contributing properties in Marshfield’s districts are more likely to be maintained or in some cases rehabilitated with the state providing income tax credits towards 25 percent of the approved costs,” stated Miller. “Hopefully, it’s enough of an incentive to encourage more investment in the city’s historic homes.”
“While the city does not play a direct role in implementing the tax credit program, I’m happy to assist property owners with questions they may have,” added Miller. “If we don’t have the answers here, we can put people in touch with the district representatives in the State Historic Preservation Office.”