6 dramatic before-and-after renovation photos of decaying buildings

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

If left without repair, our most treasured buildings can deteriorate over time.

The Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is the US government's most significant investment in the historic preservation of all kinds of decaying buildings, from theaters to prisons to hotels.

Since 1976 — when the HTC was permanently written into the national tax code — it has leveraged over $78 billion to restore more than 41,270 buildings across the US. When private investors choose to rehabilitate a historic structure, they receive a 20% income tax credit as an incentive.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a DC-based nonprofit that works with both the private and public sectors to protect and restore these buildings.

The organization shared photos of a few of the largest HTC projects from recent years. Here they are:

7 PHOTOS
before and afters of restored historical buildings
See Gallery
before and afters of restored historical buildings

The Warren Cultural Center in Greenfield, Iowa — $6.2 million renovation.

The Warren Cultural Center, originally named the E.E. Warren Opera House, opened in 1896. It attracted theatrical troupes, musical performers, and local acts, but interest in the building slowly waned over the latter part of the century, except for the few shops that stayed there until 1990.

A $6.2 million restoration in 2012 returned the auditorium and other rooms to their original grandeur. The building now serves as a multi-use hotel, hosting meetings, receptions, performances, and overnight guests.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Salem Jail in Salem, Massachusetts — $10.5 million renovation.

The Salem Jail opened in 1813. Harry Houdini staged an escape there in 1906, and Albert DeSalvo, known as the Boston Strangler, served time there in the '60s.

In 1984, living conditions were so bad — according to Curbed, detainees used chamber pots for bathrooms — that a few inmates sued the county, and the jail closed in 1991. Until then, it was oldest active penitentiary in the US.

For the next two decades, the building laid abandoned until developers transformed it into 23 luxury apartments and a restaurant. The $10.5 million project used both state and federal tax credits, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Ghost Ranch Lodge in Tucson, Arizona — $22 million renovation.

Dating back to the 1940s, the Ghost Ranch Lodge was one of the first motels in the US to feature a motor court concept (in other words, it was located on the side of the road). Georgia O'Keefe designed the skull signage for the Spanish Revival-style lodge.

In 2007, it was renovated into 112 affordable apartments for senior and disabled tenants, thanks to a $22 million rehabilitation.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The American Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland — $22.5 million renovation.

Built in 1887, the five-story building was a part of a five-acre brewery complex. Once a landmark in East Baltimore, prohibition forced the American Brewery to shut down in 1920. Over the next few decades, the building deteriorated and even served as a backdrop in HBO's "The Wire."

After $22.5 million of renovations in 2009, Humanim Inc., a nonprofit social services provider, moved in. Due to its central location and architectural quality, the building encourages future community and economic development in the area, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The Boyle Hotel in Los Angeles — $24.6 million renovation.

This brick building, constructed in 1889, first served as a luxury hotel with shops. But over the years, it deteriorated and retailers slowly moved out. 

In the late aughts, the Boyle Hotel underwent a $24.6 million rehabilitation, with seismic reinforcement, a new roof, floors, doors and fixtures, kitchens, and bathrooms added. In 2012, it reopened as 51 apartment units of affordable housing with a few shops on the ground floor.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville — $30 million renovation.

Opened in 1928, the Tennessee Theatre boasts Spanish-Moorish architecture, characterized by its decorative tile work and horseshoe arch that framed the stage. For nearly a half-century, it played movies in downtown Knoxville, but closed in 1977.

Following an 18-month, $30 million rehabilitation in the early aughts, it became a performing arts center. The building's original ticket booth, foyer, grand lobby, auditorium, and Wurlitzer organ were all restored.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

Find a New Home

Buy
Rent
Value
Powered by Zillow

From Our Partners