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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin: Historic Residential Suburbs Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

PDF of: Historic Residential Suburbs: Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places (147MB)

David L. Ames, University of Delaware
Linda Flint McClelland, National Park Service

Photo caption:  The ideal of suburban life in the parklike setting of a self-contained subdivision away from the noise, pollution, and dangers of city streets has fueled the aspirations of increasing numbers of American families since the mid-nineteenth century. Historic residential suburbs, such as the Guilford Historic District in Baltimore, Maryland, resulted from the collaboration of developers, planners, architects, and landscape architects. The contributions of these professional groups, individually and collectively, give American suburbs their characteristic identity as historic neighborhoods, collections of residential architecture, and designed landscapes. (Photo by Greg Pease, courtesy Maryland Department of Housing and Economic Development)

(We have a text only version of this bulletin here)


Defining Historic Residential Suburbs
Using Historic Context to Evaluate Eligibility
Understanding Residential Suburbs as Cultural Landscapes

  Landscape Characteristics
    Land Use and Activities
Response to the Natural Environment
Patterns of Spatial Organization
Cultural Traditions
Circulation Networks
Boundary Demarcations
Buildings, Structures, and Objects
Archeological Sites
Small-scale Elements

Trends in Urban and Metropolitan Transportation
  Railroad and Horsecar Suburbs, 1830 to 1890
Streetcar Suburbs, 1888 to 1928
Figure 1. Milestones in Urban and Metropolitan Transportation
Early Automobile Suburbs, 1908 to 1945
Post-World War II and Early Freeway Suburbs, 1945 to 1960

Suburban Land Development Practices

  Developers and the Development Process
    The Subdivider
The Home Builder
The Community Builder
The Operative Builder
The Merchant Builder
  Financing Suburban Residential Development    
    Early Trends
President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership
Federal Home Loan Banking System
Home Owners' Loan Corporation
Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
Defense Housing Programs
The "GI" Bill

Figure 2. Federal Laws and Programs Encouraging Home Ownership
  Planning and Domestic Land Use  
    Deed Restrictions
Zoning Ordinances and Subdivision Regulations
Comprehensive Planning and Regional Plans
Trends in Subdivision Design  
    Figure 3. Trends in Suburban Land Development and Subdivision Design
  Gridiron Plats
Planned Rectilinear Suburbs
Early Picturesque Suburbs
Riverside and the Olmsted Ideal
City Beautiful Influences
    Boulevards and Residential Parks
Early Radial Plans
  Twentieth-Century Garden Suburbs  
    Garden Suburbs and Country Club Suburbs
Influence of the Arts and Crafts Movement
  American Garden City Planning  
    Forest Hills
Washington Highlands
World War 1 Defense Housing
The RPAA and Sunnyside
Radburn and Chatham Village
The Neighborhood Unit and the 1931 President's Conference
  FHA Principles for Neighborhood Planning
    Neighborhoods of Small Houses
FHA-Approved Garden Apartment Communities
The Postwar Curvilinear Subdivision
The Design of the Suburban Home
  The Suburban Prerequisite: The Invention of the Balloon Frame
Rural Architecture and Home Grounds, 1838 to 1890
    Early Pattern Books
Landscape Gardening for Suburban Homes
Eclectic House Designs and Mail Order Plans
The Homestead Temple-House
  The Practical Suburban House, 1890 to 1920  
    The Open Plan Bungalow
The American Foursquare
Factory Cut, Mail Order Houses
Introduction of the Garage
Home Gardening and the Arts and Crafts Movement
  Better Homes and the Small House Movement, 1919 to 1945  
    The Better Homes Campaign
Architect-Designed Small Houses
Federal Home Building Service Plan
Landscape Design for Small House Grounds
  Public and Private Initiatives: The Efficient, Low-Cost Home, 1931 to 1948  
    Findings of the 1931 President's Conference
FHA's Minimum House and Small House Program
FHA's Rental Housing Program
Prefabricated Houses
  The Postwar Suburban House and Yard, 1945 to 1960  
    From the FHA Minimum House to the Cape Cod
The Suburban Ranch House
The Contemporary House
Postwar Suburban Apartment Houses
Contemporary Landscape Design
Figure 4. Suburban Architecture and Landscape Gardening, 1832 to 1960


Developing a Local Historic Context
  Conducting Historical Research
Determining Geographical Scale and Chronological Periods
Compiling Data from Historic Maps and Plats
      Mapping the Study Area
Preparing a Master List of Residential Subdivisions

Figure 5. Process for Identification, Evaluation, and Documentation
  Developing a Statement of Context
    Figure 6. Historical Sources for Researching Local Patterns of Suburbanization
Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs
  Survey Forms
Field Reference Materials
The Reconnaissance Survey
    Organizing an Itinerary
Recording Field Observations
    Figure 7. Guidelines for Surveying Historic Residential Suburbs
  Analyzing Survey Results
    Identifying Significant Patterns of Development
  Conducting an Intensive-Level Survey and Compiling National Register Documentation
    Documenting the Physical Evolution of a Historic Residential Suburb
Classifying House Types for Inventory Purposes
  Figure 8. How Residential Suburbs Meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation
Historic Significance
  Applying the National Register Criteria and Criteria Considerations
    Association with Important Events and Persons
Distinctive Characteristics of Design
Ability to Yield Important Information
Evaluation under Criteria Consideration G
  Selecting Areas of Significance
Defining Period of Significance
Determining Level of Significance
Historic Integrity
  Applying Qualities of Integrity
    Seven Qualities of Integrity
  Classifying Contributing and Noncontributing Resources
    Nonhistoric Alterations and Additions
  Weighing Overall Integrity
  Defining the Historic Property
Deciding What to Include
Selecting Appropriate Edges
Multiple Property Submissions
Individual Nominations and Determinations of Eligibility
Statement of Significance
Maps and Photographs
  Reference Services and Specialized Repositories
Historic Periodicals
    Popular Magazines
Professional and Trade Periodicals
  Recommended Reading
    Related National Register Bulletins
General History
Methodology, References, and Style Guides
Political and Social History
Community Planning, Real Estate, and Subdivision
Regional Histories and Case Studies
Transportation, Utilities, and Public Parks
House Design and Production
Other Suburban Property Types
Yard Design and Gardening
Selected Pattern Books, Landscape Guides, and House Catalogs
Selected Theses
Selected Multiple Property Listings




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