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The National Register of Historic Places and the National Historic Landmark Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official inventory of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. It includes all historic areas of the National Park System, National Historic Landmarks, and properties nominated by state historic preservation offices, federal agencies, and by tribal historic preservation offices.

National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. The National Historic Landmarks Program manages the process by which nationally significant historic properties are identified, evaluated and designated by the Secretary of the Interior. Both programs encourage citizens, public agencies, and private organizations to recognize, use,and learn from historic places to enhance livable and viable communities for the future.

Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect ourhistoric and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, andculture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Included among the nearly 79,000 listings that make up the National Register are:

•  All historic areas in the National Park System;

•  Nearly 2,500 National Historic Landmarks, which have been designated by the Secretary of the Interior because of their importance to all Americans;

•  Properties across the country that have been nominated by governments, organizations, and individuals because they are significant to the nation, to a state, or to a community.

National Register properties are distinguished by having been documented and evaluated according to uniform standards. These criteria recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have contributed to the history and heritage of the United States and are designed to help state and local governments, Federal agencies, and others identify important historic and archeological properties worthy of preservation and of consideration in planning and development decisions.

Are there restrictions associated with National Historic Landmark or National Register designations?

Designation as a National Historic Landmark and listing in the National Register honors historic places by recognizing their importance to the community, state or the nation. Under Federal law, owners of private property designated as a National Historic Landmark or listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that there is no Federal involvement. Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so.

Some states and communities have enacted preservation laws or ordinances that apply to National Historic Landmark and National Register listed properties. To find out about local historic preservationlaws that may apply to your historic property, the applicable state historic preservation office should be contacted.

In addition to honorific recognition, designation as a National Historic Landmark and listing in the National Register result in the following:

•  Consideration in planning for federal, federally licensed, and federally assisted projects;

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires that federal agencies provide the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects with the potential to affect National Historic Landmarks and historic properties either listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register. The Advisory Council oversees and ensures the consideration of historic properties in the federal planning process.

•  Eligibility for certain tax provisions;

Owners of National Historic Landmarks and properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20% investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures such as commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings. Federal tax deductions are also available for charitable contributions for conservation purposes of partial interests in historically important land areas or structures.

•  Consideration of historic values in the decision to issue a surface mining permit where coal is located in accordance with the Surface Mining Control Act of 1977; and

•  Qualification for Federal grants for historic preservation, when funds are available

Does the Department of Defense Own National Historic Landmarks or National Register-listed properties?

The Department of Defense is the owner and steward of a large number of diverse properties that are National Historic Landmarks and properties listed in the National Register of

Historic Places. In fact, DoD holds 78 National Historic Landmarks in its real property inventory and has about 600 entries listed in the National Register comprising 19,000 historic properties.

In addition, many properties currently owned by DoD have been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register, but have not yet been formally listed. If these properties pass out of DoD ownership, new private sector owners may be able to enjoy some of the benefits discussed above if they chose to pursue formal listing of properties on the National Register.

For More Information

For more information on the National Register of Historic Places or the National Historic Landmark Program, contact the National Park Service at:

National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program
National Park Service
1201 Eye Street, NW
8th Floor (MS 2280)
Washington, DC 20005
Main telephone: 202-354-2213

A listing of State Historic Preservation Officers can be found at