State Historic Preservation Office
National Register Fact Sheet 4*
The National Register of Historic Places in North Carolina:
Facts and Figures

  • There are over 70,000 listings of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts in the National Register across the United States and its territories.

  • The first nominations from North Carolina were submitted in 1969. Today there are over 2,100 National Register listings in the state. In recent years the state has submitted an average of 45 new nominations per year to the National Register. Most nominations are prepared by private consultants working for local governments or for private property owners. Nominations are carefully prepared and screened in the review process, and 99% of all nominations from North Carolina have been successfully listed. A list of all National Register entries in North Carolina as of the end of the most recent half-calendar year, arranged alphabetically by county and giving name, town or vicinity, and date listed, may be viewed on the State Historic Preservation website, and a printed list is available from the State Historic Preservation Office for $5.00.

  • Of the 2,100 total listings in North Carolina, about 300 are historic districts, some of which contain several hundred contributing historic buildings or sites. Types of districts include residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, prehistoric and historic archaeological districts, industrial complexes, mill villages, and rural farming districts. Since the first historic district nominations did not include complete lists of all properties within district boundaries, it is not possible to determine the precise number of historic properties in North Carolina that are listed in the National Register. The National Park Service estimates that approximately 30,000 historic properties in North Carolina are listed in the National Register either as individual listings or as contributing properties within districts. Properties within districts that contribute to the historic character of the district are eligible for federal environmental protections and benefits to the same extent as if they were individually listed.

  • Of all North Carolina properties listed in the National Register, approximately 85% are privately owned and 15% publicly owned. About 70% are listed at a local level of significance, 25% at a statewide level, and 5% at a national level of significance. The level of significance at which a property or district is listed does not affect its eligibility for benefits or the consideration it receives in environmental review processes.

  • North Carolina's National Register listings reflect the whole spectrum of the state's human experience through its long history: prehistoric Indian sites; shipwreck sites; modest log houses of settlers and slaves; houses and outbuildings of ordinary farmers and townspeople; the mansions of wealthy planters and merchants; churches of all sizes and denominations; courthouses, schools and other public buildings; commercial buildings of many types; and industrial and transportation buildings and sites. Listings vary from 10,000-year-old archaeological sites to the 1953 Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds. What all these places have in common is that they reveal in a tangible way some important aspect of past life in North Carolina and its diverse communities.

  • The State Historic Preservation Office reviews approximately 4,000 federal and state actions annually to determine their potential effects on properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register. Where a federal or state undertaking is in conflict with the preservation of a National Register property, the State Historic Preservation Office will negotiate with the responsible agency in an attempt to eliminate or minimize the effect under procedures prescribed by federal law (Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966) or state law (G.S. 121-12a).

  • From 1976 through 1999, over 700 National Register properties in North Carolina were rehabilitated under federal historic preservation tax incentive programs, representing an investment of over $300,000,000 in National Register properties in the state. A new state credit for non-income-producing historic structures, inaugurated in 1998, has stimulated 22 million dollars in construction activity for 250 historic private residences in its first two years.

  • The Restoration Branch of the State Historic Preservation Office offers technical restoration consultation services to owners of historic properties, including municipal and county governments, churches, businesses, and private property owners. Restoration Branch staff provides consultation services to more than 2,000 historic properties in a typical year. Restoration staff is located in Raleigh [phone: (919) 733-6547], Asheville [phone: (828) 274-6789], and Greenville [phone: (252) 830-6580].

  • Since the mid-1970s two-thirds of North Carolina's 100 counties and scores of municipalities have participated in survey and planning grant projects co-sponsored with the State Historic Preservation Office to conduct comprehensive surveys of historic properties and prepare nominations of properties and districts to the National Register of Historic Places. Many other counties have participated in regional reconnaissance surveys. The Survey and Planning Branch maintains an estimated 68,000 survey files with photographs and information about historic structures. The Office of State Archaeology maintains information concerning the approximately 30,000 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites recorded in the state. Forty-one counties and thirty-two municipalities have published historic architecture survey catalogues, many of which are still in print and available for purchase from the State Historic Preservation Office.

    For information about why the National Register was created and what listing means to a property owner, see NATIONAL REGISTER FACT SHEET 1, "WHAT IS THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES?"

    For an explanation of National Register criteria for evaluation, see NATIONAL REGISTER FACT SHEET 2," NATIONAL REGISTER CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION."

    For information about how properties and districts are listed in the National Register, see NATIONAL REGISTER FACT SHEET 3, "HOW HISTORIC PROPERTIES ARE LISTED IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES."

    See the handout titled "A COMPARISON OF THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES WITH LOCAL HISTORIC DISTRICT AND LANDMARK DESIGNATIONS" for an explanation of the differences between the two programs.


    Historic structures and the National Register:
    Survey and Planning Branch, (919) 733-6545.

    Archaeological sites and the National Register:
    Office of State Archaeology, (919) 733-7342.

    Preservation tax credits and technical restoration assistance:
    Restoration Branch, (919) 733-6547.

    Grants to local governments and organizations for historic property surveys and National Register nominations:
    Grants Coordinator, Administration Branch, (919) 733-4763.

    Lists of available architectural survey publications:
    Administrative Assistant, Administration Branch, (919) 733-4763.

    Address correspondence to the appropriate branch named above at:

    State Historic Preservation Office
    N.C. Office of Archives and History
    4617 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh NC 27699-4617

    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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