Montana Historic Preservation Grant

Program Overview

The Montana Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) Program is a state-funded program created in 2019 as a result of Senate Bill 338, Sections 1 through 17. The MHPG Program is designed to support public or private entities with the preservation of historic sites, historical societies, or history museums through grant funding. The MHPG Program provides the opportunity to stimulate economic development, community revitalization, and statewide tourism through increased investment, job creation or retention, business expansion, and local tax base growth.  Combined with such return on investment, the program supports the preservation of Montana’s historic structures, sites, societies, and museums, contributing to the maintenance and demonstrating the economic impact of historical resources throughout the state.  The program coordinates with wider historic preservation technical assistance available and utilizes the diversity of funds to address both the financial and preservation gaps of projects.  The program funding invests in the critical point to help projects move forward, catalyzing local revitalization and economic growth.

Commerce will hold a MHPG Program Administrative Rule Public Hearing on Monday, November 15, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.

  • Comments will be accepted through November 19, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. 
  • Click HERE to join the public hearing via webinar. 
  • Call-in Number: 406-444-9999 | Meeting ID: 896 1223 5642 | Password: 513655

**NEW** Draft 2022 Application and Guidelines for the 2025 Biennium (PDF) (Word)

**NEW** Draft Appendix B - Environmental Review (PDF) (Word)

**NEW** Draft Project Administration Manual (PDF) (Word

Eligible Applicants

  • Person
    • Individuals applying through a fiscal agent
    • Individuals applying in coordination with a local government
  • Association
    • For-profit or not for profit organizations and businesses
  • Governing Unit
    • Incorporated city or town
    • County
    • Consolidated government
    • Tribal government

Eligible Projects

Eligible applicants can apply to complete projects or activities for the preservation of historic sites, historical societies, or history museums. Preservation activities include:

A. Internal or external “brick-and-mortar” improvements that will address infrastructure, building renovation, maintenance, or building code issues

B. Improvements that will enhance security, climate control, or fire protection; and

C. Projects with a total cost over $50,000 may use up to 10% of grant funding for planning and/or grant administration costs that are directly related to the preservation activities A. and B.

Historic sites will be considered eligible if one of the below criteria is met:

  • Structure or site is listed on National, State, or Local Historic Registry
  • Structure or site contributes to a historic district
  • A structure more than 50 years old and has documented significance to the history of a Montana community or region

Eligible Funding

Eligible applicants may apply for funding up to $500,000 per eligible project. Match is encouraged and may increase the competitiveness of an application, but is not required unless the applicant is a for-profit entity.   The amount of eligible funding is derived from the tax collections allocated in 15-68-820(3)(b) and (4)(c) and deposited into the Historic Preservation Grant Account and further carried out according to the guidance established in SB 338. The legislature must approve and award all projects.

Project Activities  

Projects may include multiple activities within the scope of work, but applicants must demonstrate that each activity within the scope of work is necessary for a complete stand-alone project.  Applicants are to include a prioritization of project activities or components with funding amounts requested for each activity.  Commerce may determine to recommend awarding all or part of the requested activities. 

Informational Webinar

Applications considered for this grant cycle must have been submitted by
February 28, 2020.

The Department of Commerce recognizes the substantial impact that communities, businesses, and nonprofits have experienced due to novel coronavirus or COVID-19. As a result, we have decided to adjust the deadline to submit documentation of a completed environmental review process for the Montana Historic Preservation Grant from May 1, 2020 to June 12, 2020.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Community Development Division.

MHPG Application Guidelines 

MHPG Application

MHPG Application Guidelines Appendix B

MHPG Program Public Comments and Responses

Environmental Review Forms for Non-Local Government Applicants

Environmental Review Flowchart

Sample Resolution for Exempt Projects (Word)

Sample Resolution for Environmental Assessment Projects (Word)

Sample Environmental Review Form B-1 for Non-Governmental Applicants (Word)

Sample Advertisement for Non-Governmental Applicants (Word)

MHPG Award Process

Commerce staff has no decision-making authority over any application. Commerce only provides recommendations to the legislature that are advisory. Commerce staff will review applications based on the extent to which the proposed project relates to each of the six (6) statutory criteria found in SB 338 and listed below. To facilitate Commerce’s review, applications should be organized according to the appendix format outlined in the Application Submission section of these guidelines. The applicant may not submit any additional information after the application deadline, unless requested by Commerce staff or is part of the Environmental Review process, in order to clarify information already presented in the application.

SB 338 Statutory Criteria:

a) The degree to which the project supports economic stimulus or economic activity, including job creation and work creation for Montana contractors and service workers;

b) The degree to which the project activity can demonstrate the purpose and need of the project. This includes whether it provides features that establish or enhance security, climate control, or fire protection for museums or address infrastructure, maintenance, or building code issues for museums, historical societies, or historic sites;

c) The degree to which timing of the project can be completed without delay, including access to matching funds and approval of permits, if needed;

d) The degree to which the project activity contributes historic or heritage value related to the State of Montana;

e) The degree to which the applicant demonstrates a successful track record or experience of the organization directing the project; and,

f) The degree to which the project’s expected ongoing economic benefit to the state as a result of the project completion.

To prepare the recommendations, Commerce will review all applications in consultation with the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), before they are submitted to the legislature, as indicated below. Commerce may allow outside technical review of applications by other public or private agencies or professionals when deemed necessary to assure adequate review. Commerce may take additional information into account based upon Commerce’s or other agency’s knowledge about a proposed project or community in the scoring of an application.

Commerce will prepare its recommendations, present them to the legislature by the 15th day of the regular legislative session. The legislature will make the funding decisions.

MHPG Grant Administration

The Montana Department of Commerce administers the MHPG program through the Community Development Division. All awarded projects must follow the requirements in the most current version of the MHPG Grant Administration Manual, and; as outlined in the contract with Commerce. The MHPG Grant Administration Manual provides detailed guidance on how to administer a project in compliance with program regulations and state law.  Community and Economic Vitality staff are available to help grantees navigate the project activities through direct technical assistance.

MHPG Administration Manual

MHPG Exhibit 2E Uniform Status of Funds

MHPG Exhibit 2F Invoice Tracking



Operational expenses are not eligible for funding.
Yes.  Multiple applications can be submitted by one applicant for different projects, but multiple applicants cannot apply for the same project. For example, a local government might apply for needed improvements to multiple historic buildings but may not apply for multiple grants for a single building. Similarly, a nonprofit and business cannot both submit applications for the same building or historic site.
Program reimbursement grants will not require funds up front. Project funds are dispersed by submitting draw requests and applicable invoices to our office for processing.  Projects may have multiple draw requests, depending on the project size, timeline, and budget. Typically, invoices require payment within 30 days, allowing time for grantees to request funds from Commerce before the invoice is due. While we do request 15 days to process such draws, our team recognizes the need to expedite such requests as quickly as possible. Our team will be in regular communication with each grant awardee and/or administrator throughout the startup process, draw requests, and close out process.
All applicants must demonstrate that the project has historic significance locally, regionally, or to the history of Montana. If a structure or site is listed on local, state, or national register of historic places it is eligible. A building that is more than 50 years old may be eligible if its historic significance can be clearly demonstrated and documented.
Eligible applicants are both public and private entities. However, MHPG funding is available to complete preservation activities only for History Museums, Historic Sites, and Historical Societies. Other types of museums, such as an art museum is not eligible. However, any of these organizations which are housed within a historic building which meets the eligibility criteria may apply for projects directly related to the preservation of the structure. For example, lighting or displays for an Art Museum would be ineligible, but the museum may apply for funds to address historic building needs such as roof repairs, accessibility improvements, or to address building code issues.  


It is unlikely that an MHPG project would necessitate an EIS. An EIS is needed only when the proposed project would have significant adverse effects on the environment that cannot be fully mitigated. MHPG projects may typically be Exempt from MEPA or otherwise require completing an Environmental Assessment.
Yes, under MEPA requirements all projects must hold a public meeting to discuss the project, its expected environmental determination level, and respond to public comments. The environmental discussion can be included on the agenda of an existing meeting such as a City Council meeting, or a board meeting for a nonprofit applicant. It is important to take meeting minutes (recording public comments and attendance) and respond to all public comments.

Application Requirements

Yes, since the project involves state funds, all applicants must agree to comply with State laws as they pertain to the project. A waiver is not an application requirement.  Tribal Governments who are awarded funds will be required to sign a Waiver of Sovereign Immunity as a start-up condition of award. The waiver is limited solely to the Scope of Work and timeline for the MHPG contract activity.
No. A PAR is not an application requirement. An application should include any preliminary project planning in line with the scope of work, to support the projects feasibility and estimated costs. More involved projects, such as a complete building renovation, would necessitate more involved planning than a roof replacement, which may not need a formal PAR. 
Organizations are not required to conduct strategic plans, operating plans, or fully audited financials to be eligible or competitive for grant funding in the program.  As part of the application process, providing such materials when available helps to set the context of the institution and the project. Applicants should feel comfortable submitting any plans created, whether that be a more succinct board-created annual strategy or a full-scale strategic plan.  If a plan is not available, then an organization can articulate its goals in response to the application questions. 

Application Timeline

Awards will be made during the 2021 legislative session. Once the legislature passes the bill, it is then submitted to the Governor for signature to become effective. The date that the bill becomes effective will be the official award date. After this date grantees may incur reimbursable project costs. Activity before this date cannot be reimbursed with MHPG funds. Funds will be available to draw at the start of the fiscal year, July 1, 2021.
The biennium is named by the last year of the biennium (for example the 2023 biennium begins July 1, 2021 and ends June 30, 2023). Awards will be during the 2021 legislative session will have access to funding beginning July 1, 2021; which is the beginning of the 2023 biennium. As established in SB 338, Commerce is required to receive MHPG Program applications no later than March 1st of every even numbered year. Commerce will submit recommendations for review by the legislature (during odd numbered years) with funding available for the following biennium after the legislative session.