Do you live in an historic house? Well, if you answered yes to this question you will understand that it is always fun and exciting to learn about the history of your house and the people who lived in it prior to you. Often times when homeowners have an historic property, it is important for it to receive recognition regarding it's historical authenticity. When you are at this point, most likely you will hear the term "National Register of Historic Places." That sounds good right? To have your house on that list. Sign me up! But wait! It's not that simple. What is it and what does it entail? Here are some guidelines and tips to see if your property belongs on the National Register!
The National Register of Historic Places was created in 1966 under the National Historic Preservation Act which identifies historically significant houses that are worthy of preservation. Today, there are more than 90,000 properties on this list and this list continues to grow. However the process to get a property on this list is a long and engaging process. One of the major components of getting your property listed is reviewing the significance of the structure and where it is located. Significance can be measured in 3 different ways: 1. Architectural Significance 2. Person (Did an historical figure live or visit the property) 3. Historical Event (Did a historical event happen here or near the location of the house) Each state has a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that reviews all the information within a nomination. Each SHPO reviews the nominations of the property based on the information provided by the community or individual whom submits the nomination. Depending on the significance of your property sometimes its the other features associated with the property such as surrounding structures and landscape that can be appropriate for the National Register too! Don't focus on the small..Think of the BIG PICTURE!
Where to Start: Guidelines in Creating Your Own Nomination
- Start at your SHPO. Often times these offices have previously collected information about your property which might provide a jumping off point to start your own research.
- Get the guidelines for creating a National Register nomination but speak to your SHPO, they might have additional requirements or be able to give you some helpful assistance.
- Go to your town hall to dig up some information about the property and land your house is on.
- Look at Sanborn maps! Sanborn maps are such a useful tool that most people are unaware of. Sanborn Maps are Fire Insurance maps that show the property outline along with the structure. They were often times upgraded overtime which allows you to not only see how your structure has changed but the area around it too! This can also be a great tool to know certain materials that were used, if the structure was always a house or even a store, and how the house's footprint developed.
- Consult with a preservation consultant who will be able to tell you what type of information you need for your nomination. This will help spearhead the type of information you will be searching for.
- Find historic images! These are often times tricky to find but can be gold if you do come across them! They are great to add in your nomination and can often times give a lot of clues for the description part of the nomination for what might be original or added at a later date.
- Look at other nominations that have been done to see the language used as well as what type of information was included. This will help guide you during the process!