Uncategorized Florida Public Archaeology Network, FPAN, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, National Park Service, National Register Criteria for Evaluation, National Register of Historic Places, NRHP, Section 106 No Comments
Many of us have been to a place that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or maybe we have just heard that phrase before, but do you actually know what the National Register is? The National Register of Historic
Places is the official Federal list of districts, sites, structures and objects that are significant in American history, archaeology, engineering, architecture and culture. The National Park Service oversees the National Register, but almost anybody can nominate a structure or site. Nominations for historic properties controlled by the U.S. Government usually come from State Historic Preservation Officers or another government agency or official. Tribal lands are usually nominated by the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. However, private individuals, groups, local governments or Native American tribes often start the process and get the proper documentation in order. Private citizens can also help nominate buildings or sites as well. Each state has a review board that meets to look over the nominations and determine if they are eligible. All eligible nominations are then sent to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington D.C.
This process can sound very intimidating and long, and so many people ask about the benefits of being listed. Well, first and foremost, it recognizes a property for its significant contributions to America’s heritage and history, but there is more! It also provides for consideration in planning for federally funded projects (such as road widening, or new road construction, etc…). Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 Federal agencies have to allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects affecting historic properties listed or eligible for listing on the National Register. Additionally, some states provide certain tax provisions for properties listed on the National Register. It also opens up additional funding opportunities through federal grants when they are available.
Many people worry that if their property (private residence, business, etc…) is listed on the National Register that they will be restricted in what they can do to the property. However, as long as no Federal money is involved, the owners are free to maintain, manage or dispose of the property however they chose to do so. However, the National Park Service recommends that owners contact their State Historic Preservation Officer before doing so. There may be state or local preservation laws or ordinances that they need to be aware of before making any changes.
Now, with all this being said, you are probably wondering what qualifications must be met for a property to be eligible for listing on the National Register! Well, generally a property must
be 50 years old or older, although in some cases this does not necessarily apply. The National Park Service has established guidelines for properties that have become significant within the last 50 years. For the majority of properties, they will have to be older than 50 years and meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This process involves looking at the properties age, integrity and significance. The property should have minimal modifications and look much the same as it did historically. The property also needs to be associated with activities, events or developments that were important to history. It could be associated with important historical figures or be a great example of an architectural style or engineering achievement. Some properties, including many of the archaeological sites listed, are nominated because they have the potential to yield additional information that may be significant to our understanding of the past.
Again, this process may seem intimidating, but there are folks out there that can help you with your nomination. Nominations are a time consuming process, but that should not deter you if you own a property that is significant to our history. Although FPAN staff cannot write the entire nomination for you, we are always available to help you and answer any questions you may have. You may have questions about whether your property meets the criteria or want to know who you need to contact at the state level – we can help with that!
The National Park Service also has a website dedicated to the National Register. On this site you can find example nominations, publications, guidelines and other information that can help you with the nomination process as well. You can also look up properties that are already listed on the National Register. There are over 80,000 properties listed on the National Register, and almost every county in the U.S. has at least one property that has been listed. The photographs in this blog post are just a handful of sites and buildings in Florida that are listed on the National Register. During 2012 the National Register of Historic Places has proposed a challenge to all of us. They call it the National Register 2012 Photo Challenge. By the end of the year they want every county with a listed property to be represented on their flickr site, creating a snap shot of our collective history. This is a great way to learn about the history in your area and have a blast at the same time! You may just be surprised at the number of listed properties in your state or your community.