What are the benefits of listing my property to the National Register?
National Register listings identify historically significant buildings, districts, structures, sites, and objects and document their significance. Listings can help build community pride in the history of that community and its built environment. Historic districts can be centers of heritage tourism that help spur economic vitality. Such listings and the related documentation can serve as educational tools to help the community understand why these properties are important and as planning tools to help guide future work in their rehabilitation and stewardship. Listed properties are also identified early in the planning process for Federally funded and permitted projects as well as some state involved projects. Finally, listing to the National Register make applicable property owners eligible for grants like the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (www.lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (www.nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose/). Commercial rehabilitations that meet the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings” of properties listed on the National Register are potentially eligible for a 20% tax credit (www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/tax/). More information on the benefits of listing a property to the National Register can be found at www.nps.gov/nr/national_register_fundamentals.htm.
Do restrictions come with listing on the National Register?
Listing on the National Register alone does not place restrictions on the property owner, nor does it necessarily preserve a property in the future. Contrary to popular belief, listing a property on the National Register will not stop any private, local or federally funded projects or require review for any privately funded projects with no federal or state involvement. Listing does not require the owner to provide public access to the property. Listing will not restrict the rights of private property owners in the use, development, or sale of their property, nor will it lead automatically to the creation of a regulated historic district.
Can I make changes to my property after it is listed?
National Register listing is an honorific and does not come with any restrictions as to what can be done to the property but its owners. Listing on the National Register does not overlay any regulations on a property including but not limited to the property’s color and or the removal and or replacement of features like siding and windows unless Federal licenses, funding, or permits are needed that elicit Review & Compliance/Section 106. Some towns have local regulated historic districts that are created through local legislation and are independent of listing to the National Register. Listed properties within locally regulated historic districts still must abide by the procedures and regulations established in their town’s zoning laws. Please note that a property’s integrity is part of the evaluation process for listing to the National Register. Properties that lose substantial integrity through changes and additions may lose their listing to the National Register if evaluated in the future.
Am I exempt from code compliance if I am listed on the National Register?
Listing on the National Register does not necessarily exempt a property owner from the code. Access, building, and safety codes generally include special provisions for historic properties, to take their particular circumstances and/or construction methods and materials into account; but not all building officials are aware of these specific considerations for historic properties. For more information on building codes in New Hampshire and historic properties, please take a look at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/code.htm.
What is Review & Compliance/Section 106 and what does that have to do with listing on the National Register?
The NHDHR is New Hampshire's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Under state and federal laws, the DHR works with other governmental agencies to review publicly-assisted projects that may affect historical or archaeological resources. Historic preservation "Review & Compliance" (R&C) is a consultation process to identify significant historic properties in the planning stage of a project, so that any harm to them can be avoided or minimized. It is intended to be a conflict-resolution and problem-solving process that balances the public interest in historic preservation with the public benefit from a variety of governmental initiatives. For more information on this process, please take a look at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/review/.
My property is on the National Register and I wish to move it. Will it still be listed?
Properties listed on the National Register should only be moved when there are no other feasible alternatives for its preservation. If you are moving a listed property and wish that property to remain listed, documentation must be submitted to the National Park Service through the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources that discusses the reasons for the move, the effects on the property’s integrity, as well as the new setting along with photographs and proof that historical and archeological resources will not be impaired or destroyed by the move. Being listed on the National Register alone will not prohibit the move of a property however, properties removed without permission from the Keeper of the National Register will be automatically deleted from the register. For more information see www.nps.gov/history/nr/regulations.htm#6014.
If my property is listed, future owners have to preserve it, right?
Wrong! Listing on the National Register is an honorific and does not overlay restrictions on a property owner nor does it mandate the preservation of that property in the future. While listing to the register speaks to the importance of the property, if the property’s history and attributes are not valued by its current owner the listing will not stop insensitive changes or demolition. While Review & Compliance/Section 106 will call for the consideration of historic resources in Federally funded, permitted, or licensed plans and may determine that the final plans present an adverse effect, the process will not stop the project from going forward but will work with the community to develop a mitigation plan for the loss of the resource.
Property owners interested in the long term preservation of their historic resource are encouraged to explore preservation easements. Preservation easements are a tool often used to insure the preservation of the character defining features of a property for the public’s benefit. The extent of the protection of the property is dependent on the strength of the easement. Some easements protect just the façade of a building. Other easements protect the larger preservation values including but not limited to the exterior and interior architectural features, materials, landscape features, outbuildings, fences, and archaeological resources of a property. The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources protects a variety of properties through preservation easements (www.nh.gov/nhdhr/programs/easements.htm). Our term easements (easements that expire after a predefined period of time) and perpetual easements (easements that never expire) have come to us through state and Federal land transfers, mitigation through the review and compliance program, and substantial Federal grants for building projects like the Save America’s Treasures program. Two non-profits that hold preservation easements in New Hampshire are Historic New England (www.historicnewengland.org) and the NH Preservation Alliance (www.nhpreservation.org.) There are possible tax benefits to donating a preservation easement on a National Register listed property. To learn more please take a look at www.preservationnation.org/resources/legal-resources/easements/.
Can I call the Division of Historical Resources for technical assistance after I am listed?
One of the many services provided by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is technical assistance for preservation projects including buildings listed to the National Register. The assistance is advisory and can help property owners develop a preservation ethic into their project and help explain and interpret the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings. For more information on these standards and related guidelines, please take a look at www.nps.gov/hps/tps/tax/rhb/index.htm.
The Division of Historical Resources also offers a variety of technical assistance publications that can be found at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/publications/technical_assistance.htm. The National Park Service also provides a variety of Preservation Briefs and Tech Notes that can be found at www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/publications.htm. If you would like more information on technical assistance and the resources available to you, please contact the National Register Coordinator.
My property is listed on the National Register, where can I obtain a brass plaque?
While the National Register program can not provide each listed property with a brass plaque that celebrates its listing, there are a variety of manufacturers from which interested property owners can obtain a plaque for their house. While the Division of Historical Resources does not recommend one manufacturer over another, we do have a list of some that do this type of work as well as suggested language for the sign. To review the list and suggested language, please take a look at www.nh.gov/nhdhr/programs/documents/nr_plaque_mfg_list.pdf .
The National Park Service also has information on obtaining a plaque for your house at www.nps.gov/history/nr/faq.htm#plaque.
For More information on the National Register, call (603)271-3583 or e-mail Peter Michaud, National Register, Preservation Tax Incentives, & Easements Coordinator