Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

National Register

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What are the State and National Registers?

The State and National Registers of Historic Places are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, objects, and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture of New York and the nation. The same eligibility criteria are used for both the State and National Registers. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the New York State Historic Preservation Act of 1980 established the National and State Registers programs. In New York, the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, who is also the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), administers these programs.

What are the results of listing?

  • Registered properties and properties determined eligible for the Registers receive a measure of protection from the effects of federal and/or state agency sponsored, licensed or assisted projects through a notice, review, and consultation process.
  • Owners of depreciable, certified historic properties may take a 20 percent federal income tax credit for the costs of substantial rehabilitation as provided for under the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
  • Municipal and not-for-profit owners of listed historic properties may apply for matching state historic preservation grants.

There are no restrictions placed on private owners of registered properties. Private property owners may sell, alter or dispose of their property as they wish.

Criteria for Evaluation

The following criteria are used to evaluate properties for listing on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:

  • that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
  • that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  • that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
  • that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

Criteria Considerations

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, or graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the State and National Registers. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

  • a religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or
  • a building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or
  • a birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no other appropriate site or building directly associated with his productive life; or
  • a cemetery that derives its primary significance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or
  • a reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
  • a property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own historical significance; or
  • a property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

Nomination Priorites

The State and National Registers are the official lists of properties significant in our history and worthy of preservation. The registers are actively used by individuals, organizations, and all levels of government to promote planning, economic development, tourism, education, and an increased appreciation of our heritage. In New York, the State and National Registers are administered by the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation through the State Historic Preservation Office. Currently, the Commissioner and SHPO are encouraging nomination proposals in three categories, including:

Nomination Proposals that Promote Economic Revitalization Goals in this category:

  • Federal historic rehabilitation tax credit projects
  • Main street projects
  • Public and not-for-profit grant projects
  • Heritage tourism and recreation enhancement projects
  • Projects that will use historic preservation as a marketing tool

Nomination Proposals that Generate Broad Public Support Goals in this category:

  • Projects sponsored by Certified Local Governments
  • Projects sponsored by other municipalities
  • Projects sponsored by community organizations
  • Projects sponsored through widespread citizen participation

Nomination Proposals that Contribute to Planning and Education Goals in this category:

  • Multiple property nominations that result from comprehensive surveys
  • Historic district nominations that result from surveys
  • Projects that provide recognition to properties that are currently under-represented in the State and National Registers
  • Projects that foster pride in community history
  • Projects that foster awareness of historic properties
  • Projects that can be incorporated into local school curricula

State and National Registers Nomination Process

The State and National Register nomination process is designed to assist in the development of complete and accurate documentation of each eligible property according to the professional and archival standards of the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The research and technical requirements of the nomination process encourage the active and ongoing participation of owners, sponsors, SHPO staff, and preservation consultants.

Evaluation and Nomination Process

The preparation of a State and National Registers nomination proposal is a cooperative effort between the sponsor -- most often the owner of the property -- and the staff of the State Historic Preservation Office.

A sponsor may initiate the nomination process by requesting, completing, and returning a State and National Registers Program Applicant Form and a Historic Resource Inventory Form and/or other explanatory materials to the State Historic Preservation Office. These materials will be evaluated by the staff of the Survey and National Register Unit using the National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation and other guidelines published by the National Park Service.

Proposals which appear to meet the criteria for listing are assigned to staff for further development on the basis of current preservation priorities. In most instances, staff site inspections will be required in order to develop a more in-depth understanding of the historic property and its documentation requirements prior to the preparation of a National Register Nomination Form. Preparing this form and the required research, maps, photographs, and other attachments is primarily the responsibility of the sponsor working closely with a National Register staff member. In some cases, staff may be able to assist with portions of this work, particularly for high priority projects in communities with limited resources. In other instances, it may be appropriate to consider contracting with private historic preservation consultants to develop the nomination information. A current list of consultants offering services in this area is available upon request.

Upon receipt of a satisfactory draft nomination, this office will formally seek the comments of the owner(s) and local officials, and schedule a review by the New York State Board for Historic Preservation, more commonly referred to as the State Review Board. The board meets quarterly and nomination reviews must be scheduled three months in advance in order to satisfy public notification requirements. If recommended, the nomination form is finalized and forwarded to the State Historic Preservation Officer for review and signature. Once signed, the nomination is entered on the New York State Register of Historic Places and transmitted to the National Park Service where it is nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. If approved by the Keeper of the Register, the nomination is signed and listed on the National Register. Please note that the National Park Service will not place an individual, privately owned property on the National Register if its owner objects or if a majority of private property owners object to the proposed listing of a nomination containing multiple owners.

To receive more information and/or application package on the State and National Register programs, please Contact our office or go to our Territorial Map section to find contact information for the National Register Program Representative for your county.