New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources
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Programs > Listing a Property

How do I list a property?

Property owners can nominate properties to the State Register by submitting a completed inventory form for the resource to the Division of Historical Resources. Forms and directions are available by contacting NHDHR or from the Division's web site. They can be prepared by property owners or by a consulting architectural historian or archeologist at the owner's request. NHDHR staff then review the nominations and make suggestions for editorial changes or additional research. If the property meets the State Register criteria and the inventory form is complete, the NHDHR recommends the property for listing to the State Historical Resources Council. The Council, composed of professionals in the fields of American history, architectural history, architecture, prehistoric and historic archeology and other related disciplines, meets quarterly and gives final approval to all nominations.

Following Council approval, NHDHR will present property owners with a letter and certificate confirming that their property is listed on the State Register of Historic Places. Information on the property will be entered into NHDHR's database and files, and the owners can sign up for a mailing list to receive the Division's newsletter and pertinent information on workshops, publications and other preservation events and topics.

Inventory forms are also completed as part of many state and local planning processes, such as environmental review for transportation projects, and through the efforts of town heritage or historical commissions. Property owners should check the NHDHR's files for previous research prior to beginning their own inventory efforts.

What are the criteria for listing?

All properties listed on the State Register are documented and evaluated against the following criteria. These broad criteria are designed to guide individuals, local governments and others in evaluating potential entries in the State Register. Properties not specifically described in the text below may still be eligible.

Criteria for evaluation

Properties may be listed on the State Register for the story they tell. This story can be about a single event, such as a major labor strike at a factory, or about a much longer historical trend, such as the rise of textile manufacturing in the Merrimack River valley, or a number of stories that are together meaningful to a community's history, such as a mill complex that has housed a number of different industries on which a village has depended. Although the State Register recognizes that many of these types of historical resources have changed over the years to accommodate evolving technologies, styles and needs, the listed resource must retain enough of its historic fabric to illustrate its historic uses and role in the community.

Properties may also be meaningful for their associations with people who made important contributions to a community, profession or local tradition. These types of resources could be the workshop of a popular painter, the home of successful local chair manufacturer or the store of the first merchant in town. Again, these resources should retain the bulk of their historical physical fabric. One test is to question whether the person whose life the property illustrates would recognize it today.

Properties may also be listed on the State Register for their tangible merit, either as a well-preserved example of local architecture, design, construction or engineering, or as long-standing focal point in a neighborhood or community. A variety of resources can be ushered into the State Register under this criterion: a well-preserved although typical example of a New Hampshire farmhouse, a town common or cemetery, or the intact stone foundations of a local grist mill. These types of resources need not be extraordinary or the best example in town; they often can be a common, although irreplaceable, feature on the New Hampshire landscape.

Identified, but unexcavated and unevaluated archeological sites may also be listed on the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places. Artifacts at these sites can yield significant information about the lives, traditions and activities of New Hampshire's earliest residents.

Types of Resources

As noted above, historic resources listed on the State Register can be buildings, districts, sites, landscapes, structures and objects. Examples of these types of resources include, but are not limited to:

Buildings: houses, stores, barns, garages, boathouses.
Districts: downtowns, mill complexes, railroad corridors, neighborhoods, agricultural properties.
Sites: mill or building foundations, parade grounds, the location of a Native American Indian camp.
Landscapes: cemeteries, parks, town forests.
Structures: bridges, stone walls, fire towers, dams.
Objects: watering troughs, light posts, boats, fountains.

Generally, properties eligible for listing on the State Register should be at least fifty years old. The passage of time allows for a more objective evaluation of a property's historical significance. Properties approaching the fifty year mark can be listed if their historical values are already clear.

Changes to properties listed in the State Register

Any change to a historic property that harms or destroys its significant historic fabric may be grounds for removing that property from the State Register. These types of changes can include moving a building, replacing a building's most significant historic building materials with unsympathetic materials, or the destruction of its most important historical attributes, such as the subdivision of a farm's agricultural fields and the subsequent construction modern housing. The degree of harm a change can cause depends on the reason why the property was listed on the Register, and each case must be reviewed individually.

On the other hand, changes to a property once judged to be ineligible for the State Register could render it eligible, such as the removal of modern building materials from a commercial storefront and the restoration of its original façade.

Removing properties from the State Register

Any person or organization may petition in writing to the NHDHR for the removal of property from the State Register. Reasons for removing a property include: (a) changes that have harmed a resource's historic integrity, (b) the introduction of additional information that shows a property does not meet State Register criteria, (c) procedural error in the nomination or listing process, or (d) a subsequent property owner's preference. Given a clear, informative demonstration of why the property should be removed from the State Register, based on the four above grounds, NHDHR will either forward its concurrence or disagreement with the request to the State Historical Resources Council. As with listing a property to the State Register, the State Historical Resources Council gives final approval or disapproval to all removal requests.

Regardless of whether a property is listed on the State Register, or only determined to be eligible for listing on the State Register, many of the benefits described below in the section, "Effects of Listing," still apply.

Assistance with listing a property on the State Register

Instructions for completing inventory forms and locating research materials are available at the NHDHR, as is a list of consulting architectural historians who are familiar with the inventory and State Register processes in New Hampshire. As noted above, researchers should also review the existing inventory files at NHDHR to determine whether information has been gathered on their property.

The National Park Service has published a number of guides to identifying and evaluating historic properties, including "Researching a Historic Property" (National Register Bulletin #39) and "Architectural Character: Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving Their Character" (Preservation Brief #17). Copies of these guidelines are available at the NHDHR and on the National Park Service's web pages at www.cr.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb39/ and www2.cr.nps.gov/tps/briefs/brief17.htm, respectively. A recently published book, A Building History of Northern New England by James L. Garvin, is the definitive guide to understanding New Hampshire architecture. Copies are available through local public libraries or bookstores.

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