U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
It should be determined whether the period under consideration calls for a routine historical evaluation or whether the period needs to be viewed in the context of exceptional importance. Without such a determination, certain properties which have just passed the 50-year point might be given greater value, and those just less than 50 years old might be inappropriately ascribed less importance, when the resources should have been evaluated together to determine their relative significance. Several such periods have been examined since the National Historic Preservation Act was passed in 1966. The 50-year period at that time did not yet include World War I. Soon after the law was passed properties related to the First World War were evaluatedbut that evaluation only made sense when examined for the entire war, not on a yearly basis. Similar leaps have been involved with the "Roaring Twenties" and the Depression and the Federal government's response to it. During the past 20 years we have been able to evaluate and list properties, in many categories, constructed or achieving significance during those years, including: Federal projects during the Depression and World War II, the development of air transportation, Art Deco and the International styles of architecture, scientific advances, and sites related to numerous political and social events and individuals. There is now sufficient perspective to enable an evaluation of a number of properties related to the post-World War II era. Some topics for evaluation under Criteria Consideration G include post-World War II development projects; the growth of suburban subdivisions, shopping malls and commercial strip development; the expansion of educational, recreational, and transportation facilities; the Civil Rights movement; the advent of the United States space program; the Vietnam War; and the impact of historic preservation on American cities, towns, and rural areas. An evaluation of some of these categories of resources before others might be possible, either because specific scholarly studies are available, or there exists general historical knowledge about the period or the significance of the resource. A second consideration regarding time is that the appropriate date from which to evaluate a property for exceptional significance is not always the date of construction, but rather, the point at which the property achieved significance. The significance of an architecturally important property can be charted from the time of its construction. But the significance of properties important for historical associations with important events or persons should be dated from the time of the event or the period of association with a historically important individual. For example, Flannery O'Connor's home, Anadalusia, in Milledgeville, Georgia, is significant for its association with O'Connor. She was renowned as a short-story writer of the post-World War II generation, who used the Southern landscape as a major force in shaping her fiction. The period of significance clearly begins in 1951 when she moved there, rather than the early 20th century when the complex of buildings was constructed. Thus, although a property may be more than 50 years of age, if it is significant solely for a reason that dates from within the past 50 years, it must be exceptionally important to be listed in the National Register.
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