"The primary strength of a local designation is that
it can be tailored to specific community needs and provides greater protection
for local resources."
Does listing in the National Register mean that your house and neighborhood
or city's main street will be protected from time and change—forever
preserved? Many people think so, and this is a common misunderstanding.
While National Register listing is a tremendous honor and carries some
financial opportunities as well, "Under federal law, owners of private
property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage,
or dispose of their property as they choose, provided that there is no
As opposed to the more honorary National Register listing and federal or state law, local designation can be a first step toward legally preserving historic landmarks, neighborhoods and downtown areas in your community.
So, although private property owners do have rights under any type of listing or designation, it's important to be aware of what those rights really are—and how effectively administered local laws, in particular, may work to protect the character of your neighborhood.
Note the basic differences in protection and requirements between local designation and National Register listing:
Designates historic properties based on uniform national criteria and procedures.
Sets boundaries for historic districts based on the actual distribution pattern of intact historic properties in the area.
Provides recognition by the federal government that an area has historical or archeological significance.
Requires the effects of federally assisted work projects (actions) on historic properties be considered prior to the commencement of work. Makes available federal tax incentives for qualified rehabilitation projects. Requires conformance to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation (36 CFR 67).
Makes a property eligible for HPF pre-development planning grants (such as plans and specs) and also "bricks and mortar" repair grants, if selected by the SHPO for grant assistance. Work projects require conformance to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (36 CFR 68).