What is the process to become a New Jersey or National Historical Site?
Some Frequently Asked Questions
(Courtesy of the National Register of Historic Places)
Historic places are nominated to the National Register by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) of the State in which the property is located, by the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) for properties under Federal ownership or control, or by the Tribal Preservation Officer (TPO) if the property is on tribal lands. Anyone can prepare a nomination to the National Register; generally nomination forms are documented by property owners, local governments, historical societies or SHPO, FPO or TPO staff. Nominations by States are submitted to a State review board, composed of professionals in the fields of American history, architectural history, architecture, prehistoric and historic archeology, and other related disciplines. The review board makes a recommendation to the SHPO either to approve the nomination if, in the board’s opinion, it meets the National Register criteria, or to disapprove the nomination if it does not.
During the time the proposed nomination is reviewed by the SHPO, property owners and local officials are notified of the intent to nominate and public comment is solicited. Owners of private property are given an opportunity to concur in or object to the nomination. If the owner of a private property, or the majority of private property owners for a property or district with multiple owners, objects to the nomination, the historic property cannot be listed in the National Register. In that case, the SHPO may forward the nomination to the National Park Service only for a determination of eligibility. If the historic property is listed or determined eligible for listing, then the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation must be afforded the opportunity to comment on any Federal project that may affect it. (See the Results of Listing and Owner Information pages, and our publication entitled My Property’s Important to America’s Heritage, What Does That Mean: Answers to Questions for Owners of Historic Properties for further information about the meaning of National Register listing.)
The SHPO forwards nominations to the National Park Service to be considered for registration if a majority of private property owners has not objected to listing. During the National Register’s evaluation of nomination documentation, another opportunity for public comment is provided by the publication of pending nominations in the Federal Register.
Several state historic preservation office web sites also offer more information on National Register listed properties in their state (For New Jersey, Click Here). The depth of information available varies from state to state, but ranges from basic locational information to searchable databases with downloadable narrative descriptions and photos. Go to our list of SHPO Inventories for referrals to states offering more information.
The National Register’s standards for evaluating the significance of properties were developed to recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have made a significant contribution to our country’s history and heritage. The criteria are designed to guide State and local governments, Federal agencies, and others in evaluating potential entries in the National Register. Find help evaluating and documenting the significance of the range of diverse historic places recognized in the National Register with the National Register bulletin series.The National Register’s standards for evaluating the significance of properties were developed to recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have made a significant contribution to our country’s history and heritage. The criteria are designed to guide State and local governments, Federal agencies, and others in evaluating potential entries in the National Register. Find help evaluating and documenting the significance of the range of diverse historic places recognized in the National Register with the National Register bulletin series.
The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:
- A. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
- B. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
- C. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
- D. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:
- A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or
- A building or structure removed from its original location but which is primarily significant for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or
- A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no appropriate site or building directly associated with his or her productive life; or
- A cemetery which derives its primary importance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or
- A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
- A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or
- A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.
The process varies from State to State depending on State workload, planning, and registration priorities, and the schedule of the review board. The process takes a minimum of 90 days to fulfill all of the review and notification requirements provided that a complete and fully documented nomination form has been completed for the property. Upon submission to the National Park Service, a decision on whether to list the property is made within 45 days.