State Historic Preservation Office
National Register Fact Sheet 3*
How Historic Properties are Listed in the
National Register of Historic Places
Who Administers the National Register Program?

The National Register of Historic Places is a list maintained by the National Park Service of buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture, and that meet criteria for evaluation established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Nominations to the National Register are submitted from each of the states by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). In North Carolina, the SHPO is the Director of the Office of Archives and History. The section within the Division that administers the National Register and related programs is the State Historic Preservation Office (HPO). The personnel of the State Historic Preservation Office serve as staff for the SHPO in National Register activities and duties.

In every state, a review board examines potential nominations and makes recommendations to the SHPO regarding the eligibility of properties and the adequacy of nominations. These boards are composed of professional historians, archaeologists, architectural historians, and architects as well as other citizens having a demonstrated interest and expertise in historic preservation. In North Carolina, the review board is called the National Register Advisory Committee (NRAC), and includes both professional members and citizen members appointed from the North Carolina Historical Commission. The NRAC meets three times per year (the second Thursday of February, June, and October) to consider the eligibility of properties for nomination to the National Register. Nominations prepared under the supervision of the HPO staff and approved by the NRAC are forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register in the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. Final authority to list properties in the National Register resides with the National Park Service.

How are Eligible Properties Identified?

Properties and districts that may be eligible for the National Register are usually brought to the attention of the HPO staff and the NRAC either (1) through a county or community survey of historic properties co-sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office and a local government or organization; (2) by interested individuals who provide preliminary information about properties to the HPO staff; or (3) through historic property surveys conducted as part of the environmental review process.

Persons who seek National Register listing for properties that have not been recorded in survey projects co-sponsored by the State Historic Preservation Office may submit a "Study List Application" to the HPO. If adequate information and color slides of the property are included with the application, the NRAC will consider the property at its next meeting. If in the opinion of the NRAC the property appears to be potentially eligible for the National Register, it is placed on the Study List. This action by the NRAC authorizes the HPO staff to work with the owner to coordinate a formal nomination of the property to the National Register.

The NRAC can best evaluate the eligibility of an individual property within the context of a community-wide or regional inventory of historic or prehistoric properties. This provides a basis for comparing the relative significance of similar types of historic or prehistoric properties in a community or region. In counties or communities where no such inventory has been assembled, the NRAC will sometimes find it necessary to defer a decision about the eligibility of an individual property until a comprehensive survey of historic properties has taken place. Likewise, the NRAC may consider some properties as contributing components within larger districts but not as individually eligible. Information about grants to local governments for local historic property surveys and nominations is available from the State Historic Preservation Office.

What is a National Register Nomination?

A National Register nomination is a scholarly and authoritative document that thoroughly describes and evaluates a property's setting and physical characteristics, documents its history, assesses its significance in terms of its historic context, and demonstrates how it specifically meets National Register criteria for evaluation. It is supported by professional quality black and white photographs, maps delineating the property's boundaries, and other materials and information. The nomination must be prepared according to federal and state guidelines.

Who Prepares National Register Nominations?

Most nominations are prepared by private consultants hired either by individual property owners or by local governments or organizations. Nominations of archaeological sites are sometimes prepared by professional archaeologists as part of their on-going research. HPO National Register staff is responsible for reviewing, editing, and processing nominations prepared in these ways. Due to the great demand for National Register nominations, the small HPO staff is unable to prepare nominations as a public service.

An owner of a Study List property who seeks to have it listed in the National Register may hire a private consultant to prepare the nomination. A list of qualified consultants is available from the State Historic Preservation Office. HPO staff cannot quote fees, and fees will vary depending on the consultant and the complexity of the nomination. An owner may expect to pay a professional historian, architectural historian, or archaeologist the equivalent of 40 to 80 hours of time at a professional hourly wage.

Some owners are interested in preparing their own nominations and are capable of doing so. A packet that includes the NPS instruction manual, the supplementary state instruction manual, and sample nominations may be purchased from the State Historic Preservation Office for $15.00. The level of description, historical documentation, analysis, and writing in every nomination must meet accepted professional standards. The SHPO will not submit substandard nominations to Washington, and HPO staff cannot make major revisions or provide detailed critiques of inadequate nominations. Because documentation of archaeological properties always involves excavation, analysis, and interpretation requiring specialized training, nominations of archaeological properties are always prepared by professional archaeologists.

What Happens to the Finished Nomination?

The nomination is reviewed by members of the National Register Advisory Committee at one of the regular meetings. If the NRAC recommends that the nomination be submitted to the National Register, it is signed by the State Historic Preservation Officer and forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register. At the National Register office, the nomination is reviewed and the decision to list or not list is made within not less than 15 and not more than 45 days of receipt. If the property is listed, the HPO will notify the owner and provide a certificate stating that the property has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Owners who desire plaques may order them from private commercial suppliers. The HPO does not provide plaques or recommend any particular supplier, but a list of manufacturers is available on request.


National Register Coordinator
Survey and Planning Branch
State Historic Preservation Office
Office of Archives and History
4618 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-4618
Telephone (919) 733-6545

Offices of the Survey and Planning Branch are at 515 N. Blount Street in Raleigh.

For information about archaeological sites and the National Register, contact the Office of State Archaeology at the above address or telephone (919) 733-7342

See also the following numbered National Register Fact Sheets:

1: "What is the National Register of Historic Places?"
2: "National Register Criteria for Evaluation"
4: "The National Register of Historic Places in North Carolina: Facts and Figures"

The National Register program is governed by the following federal and state rules and regulations: 36CFR Part 60 (interim rule), 36CFR Part 61 (final rule), and North Carolina Administrative Code T07: 04R .0300.

* Reproduced for the City of Washington Department of Planning and Development Website
from the revision of this document posted at:
on the State Historic Preservation Office Website as of 12/11/01.
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