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Registering a property as a historic landmark

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2024 | Real Estate |

Registering a property as a historic landmark provides significant protections and benefits. This designation preserves buildings, structures, or sites of historical, architectural, or cultural significance. It ensures they receive maintenance and stay protected for years to come. 

The legal process behind registering a property as a landmark requires a few key steps.

Research eligibility

First, you must determine if the property is eligible for historic designation. Eligibility criteria vary by state and local jurisdictions. Generally, a property must be at least 50 years old and have historical, architectural, or cultural significance. 

Properties can be significant for their association with important historical events or persons, distinctive architectural styles, or ability to provide important historical information.

Gather documentation

Once you establish eligibility, you need to provide detailed documentation showing historical significance. This often includes:

  • Historical research: Collect historical data about the property. This often includes information about its past owners and its role in history.
  • Architectural description: Describe the property’s architectural features and style in detail.
  • Photographic documentation: Include current and, if possible, historical photographs of the property.
  • Significance statement: Explain why the property is significant. This statement should also explain how it meets the criteria for designation.

Compile this documentation into a nomination form. This will serve as the formal application for historic designation.

Submit the nomination form for review

Submit the completed nomination form to the appropriate historical preservation authority. For the National Register of Historic Places, this is the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The SHPO reviews the nomination and may request additional information.

After the SHPO’s review, the nomination goes to the State Review Board. This board consists of professionals in history, architecture, archaeology, and related fields. The board will evaluate the nomination and make a recommendation. If the board approves the nomination, it goes to the National Park Service (NPS) for final approval.

Engage the public

Public involvement is a crucial part of the historic designation process. Public hearings allow interested parties to make comments and objections. The input from these hearings can influence the decision-making process.

Ensure a lasting legacy

The legal process of registering a property as a historic landmark is complex. However, successfully navigating this process can be more than worthwhile. Once designated as historic landmarks, properties gain certain legal protections. These include preservation easements and protection from demolition or significant alteration. Other benefits include eligibility for tax credits and grants.

The meticulous research and thorough documentation involved in this process might seem challenging. However, completing these steps helps property owners safeguard historical integrity for future generations.


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