The United States government maintains an official list of historic places. The structures included on this list receive special protection to preserve them and keep them beautiful. People who own old homes might wish to learn how their houses can be included on this list; however, depending on the property, homeowners may need to comply with requirements that restrict historic remodeling.
Starting at the State Level
Each state maintains a historic preservation office. Homeowners should contact their state office to get information about the process of including a building on this state list. This procedure usually involves filling out forms to nominate the property. The state office will review the property to ensure that it meets eligibility criteria. These criteria usually include the age of the structure, the significance of the property, and the integrity of the building. Generally, a home needs to be at least 50 years old to be included. The condition and current state of the structure should be very similar to the way it looked when it was originally built, which means that any historic remodeling that occurred was in line with the original construction. Significance pertains to any important events or activities that occurred in the home. For example, if an important person visited the house or was involved with it in some way, this can increase a residence’s importance.
The state office will review a nomination to determine whether the property should be included in the state list of historic places. This review period may take 90 days or more. After review, the office will return a decision regarding inclusion of the property on the state list. If included, the state will provide information about preservation incentives, tax benefits, grant opportunities, and maintenance of the property.
The federal government maintains a separate list of properties. Homeowners can petition individual agencies such as the National Park Service Federal Agency Preservation Assistance Program to determine whether a house meets criteria for inclusion in a federal list.
With consideration of historic remodeling guidelines, homeowners can ensure that a house maintains its historic designation.