Historic Preservation

a headshot of Anne Nelson

Anne E. Nelson


Anne Nelson has a B.A. in History from Boston College and a juris doctor from Duquesne University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. As Senior Associate General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC, she provides a broad range of legal services to the organization, including both corporate legal services and advocating for the protection of historic resources at the federal, state, and local levels. Her corporate work focuses on supporting the National Trust’s portfolio of historic sites—currently focusing on matters relating to COVID-19, but also assisting the historic sites with expanding their programs and community engagement through collaborations with artists and other innovative agreements and partnerships. Over the last two years, Anne has led the National Trust’s efforts to protect the Ashley River Historic District—a 23,000-acre cultural landscape that is located in Charleston, SC and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Using various legal and advocacy tools, the National Trust, along with a coalition of local preservation and conservation partners, is seeking additional protections for this iconic place. Anne also regularly participates in Section 106 reviews under the National Historic Preservation Act, works to defend and strengthen local ordinances, and regularly lectures on a variety of historic preservation topics around the country.  She is also a lecturer at Goucher College.   

Prior to joining the National Trust, Anne was the General Counsel of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation where she provided legal advice to the nonprofit organization and its subsidiaries, including working on two federal historic tax credit transactions (one twinned with low income tax credits), providing legal services to the preservation easement program, and directly advocating at the local level for the preservation of historic properties.   

Legal Experience

National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington, D.C.

Associate General Counsel, January 2013 to Present
Legal Intern, Summer 2006

  • Providing a provision of broad, complex, and varied range of nonprofit corporate legal services involving the entire scope of National Trust activities, with a focus on supporting National Trust Historic Sites and agreements with artists.
  • Leading co-stewardship transitions at National Trust Historic Sites, which includes negotiating legal agreements, setting up nonprofit entities, transitioning employees, reconciliation of funds, and assignment of contracts.
  • Providing legal support to the gifts of real estate and preservation easement programs.
  • Engaging in legal advocacy, including both litigation and administrative advocacy, with a focus on the federal level and the National Historic Preservation Act.
  • Managing National Treasure campaigns, and providing legal advice and assistance to field and other program staff regarding historic preservation issues and controversies.
  • Co-managing the legal intern program, including developing projects and supervising interns.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation
Pittsburgh, PA

General Counsel, October 2007 to December 2012 
Program Associate, August 2007 to October 2007  
Intern, September 2005 to July 2007

  • Provided legal counsel to the non-profit organization and its subsidiaries on a variety of issues including corporate governance, board policies, planned giving, real estate development, loan funds, tax exemption, leasing, and employment issues.
  • Assisted with the preservation easement program, including drafting easements documents, responding to monitoring issues, and addressing IRS audit requests.
  • Successfully formed partnership structures, drafted and negotiated legal documents, and closed two rehabilitation tax credit developments (one including Low Income Tax Credits) totaling $14 million.
  • Advocated for the preservation of historic buildings at the local, state, and national levels by participating as a consulting party in Section 106 reviews, testified at public meetings, and provided advice on preservation issues and tax incentives to developers, community groups, and government entities.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania- Honorable Judge Mary Jane Bowes  
Pittsburgh, PA

Legal Intern, Summer 2005

  • Assisted law clerks with drafting final opinions that were circulated to and jointed by other Superior Court judges.
  • Composed numerous, unpublished, vote and bench memorandums for both the Judge and law clerks.
  • Performed extensive research and writing on various civil, criminal, and family issues.

Professional Licenses & Certifications

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia Bar (2013)
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (2007)


  • Negotiation and Leadership, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (December 2015)
  • Historic Housing Development Finance Professional, National Development Council (November 2015)

Publications & Speaking Engagements

  • Nelson, A., Hefferen, S., & Schindler, K., “PokéWHAT?! National Trust for Historic Preservation Staff Provide a Pokémon Go Primer,” American Association for State and Local History Blog (July 27, 2016)
  • Nelson, A. & Villar, C., “Getting It in Writing: Negotiating Agreements with Artists at Historic Sites,” Preservation Leadership Forum Blog (May 25, 2016)
  • Nelson, A., “Intervene Early, Intervene Often: Appealing a FERC Order to Preserve Pawtucket Dam,” Preservation Leadership Forum (March 24, 2016)
  • Nelson, A. “Co-Stewardship at Historic Sites and the Path to Local Governance,” Preservation Leadership Forum Blog (February 13, 2015)
  • Speaker, The Economic Impact of Tax Credits in PA: The Case for a State Companion, Preservation Pennsylvania’s Statewide Conference on Heritage, Byways to the Past XII, Harrisburg, PA (May 19, 2011)
  • Speaker, Historic Preservation Tax Incentives for Real Estate, Legal Issues in Real Estate, Urban Land Institute Young Leaders Group, Pittsburgh, PA (October 1, 2009)


Duquesne University School of Law
Pittsburgh, PA

Juris Doctor, May 2007
Received CALI Excellency Award for Writing and the Pro Bono Award  
Public Interest Law Association, member
Boston College
Boston, MA

Bachelor of Arts, History, May 2004
Dean’s List, 2003
Division I Women’s Varsity Rowing, co-captain senior year, 2000-2004