Latino Tools for Commemoration and Preservation
  • Ybor City Historic District, Tampa, FL; Old Mission Dam, San Diego, CA; Chinese Sunken Garden Gate, San Antonio, TX; Glorieta Pass Battlefield, Pecos National Historical Park, NM; Casa Amadeo, New York, NY

    American Latino Heritage Projects

    Cultural Resources National Park Service
National Park Service Tools for Commemoration and Preservation: American Latino Heritage

The National Park Service (NPS) preserves a wide variety of places commemorating America's multi-faceted history. The NPS preserves these cultural resources -- such as buildings, landscapes, archeological sites, and museum collections -- as tangible evidence of our collective past and strives to ensure that associated educational programming conveys an accurate and inclusive view of history. The NPS also administers the National Historic Landmarks Program to recognize nationally significant properties and the National Register of Historic Places to recognize places of significance to local and state communities. Because places provide the tangible context in which our history unfolds, a richer appreciation of the past must include local and regional experience to help build appreciation for our national experience.

This introduction describes the tools that the NPS uses to evaluate properties for their historical and cultural significance according to specific criteria (see Criteria for Evaluation) with particular emphasis on sites associated with American Latino heritage. This essay is intended to encourage nomination of significant places to the National Register of Historic Places and for National Historical Landmark designation.

NPS Thematic Framework

NPS offers a conceptual tool for creating the historic contexts that are needed to evaluate fully the significance of cultural resources within or outside the National Park System. This tool is the Thematic Framework for History and Prehistory, which outlines major themes and concepts that help us to conceptualize American history.

The thematic framework consists of eight concepts that encompass the multi-faceted and interrelated nature of human experience. It is used to help identify, describe, and analyze the multiple layers of history encapsulated within each place. These concepts are best thought of as thoroughly interconnected in a holistic system of social and cultural forces.

I. Peopling Places

This theme examines human population movement and change, family formation, different concepts of gender, family, and sexual division of labor, and at how they have been expressed in the American past.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. family and the life cycle
2. health, nutrition, and disease
3. migration from outside and within
4. community and neighborhood
5. ethnic homelands
6. encounters, conflicts, and colonization

II. Creating Social Institutions and Movements

This theme focuses upon the diverse formal and informal structures such as schools or voluntary associations through which people express values and live their lives. Americans generate temporary movements and create enduring institutions in order to define, sustain, or reform these values.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. clubs and organizations
2. reform movements
3. religious institutions
4. recreational activities

III. Expressing Cultural Values

This theme covers expressions of culture as people's beliefs about themselves and the world they inhabit. It also encompasses the ways that people communicate their moral and aesthetic values.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. educational and intellectual currents
2. visual and performing arts
3. literature
4. mass media
5. architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design
6. popular and traditional culture

IV. Shaping the Political Landscape

This theme encompasses tribal, local, state, and federal political and governmental institutions that create public policy and those groups that seek to shape both policies and institutions. Sites associated with political leaders, theorists, organizations, movements, campaigns, and grassroots political activities all illustrate aspects of the political environment.

The political landscape has been shaped by military events and decisions, by transitory movements and protests, as well as by political parties.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. parties, protests, and movements
2. governmental institutions
3. military institutions and activities
4. political ideas, cultures, and theories

V. Developing the American Economy

This theme reflects the ways Americans have worked, including slavery, servitude, and non-wage as well as paid labor. It also reflects the ways they have materially sustained themselves by the processes of extraction, agriculture, production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. In examining the diverse working experiences of the American people, this theme encompasses the activities of farmers, workers, entrepreneurs, and managers, as well as the technology around them.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. extraction and production
2. distribution and consumption
3. transportation and communication
4. workers and work culture
5. labor organizations and protests
6. exchange and trade
7. governmental policies and practices
8. economic theory

VI. Expanding Science and Technology

This theme focuses on science, which is modern civilization's way of organizing and conceptualizing knowledge about the world and the universe. This is done through the physical sciences, the social sciences, and medicine. Technology is the application of human ingenuity to modification of the environment in both modern and traditional cultures.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. experimentation and invention
2. technological applications
3. scientific thought and theory
4. effects on lifestyle and health

VII. Transforming the Environment

This theme examines the variable and changing relationships between people and their environment, which continuously interact. The environment is where people live, the place that supports and sustains life. The American environment today is largely a human artifact, so thoroughly has human occupation affected all its features.

This theme acknowledges that the use and development of the physical setting is rooted in evolving perceptions and attitudes. The focus here is on recognizing the interplay between human activity and the environment as reflected in particular places.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. manipulating the environment and its resources
2. adverse consequences and stresses on the environment
3. protecting and preserving the environment

VIII. Changing Role of the United States in the World Community

This theme explores diplomacy, trade, cultural exchange, security and defense, expansionism, and, at times, imperialism. The interactions among indigenous peoples, between this nation and native peoples, and this nation and the world have all contributed to American history. America has never existed in isolation. While the United States, especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has left an imprint on the world community, other nations and immigrants to the United States have had a profound influence on the course of American history.

Topics that help define this theme include:

1. international relations
2. commerce
3. expansionism and imperialism
4. immigration and emigration policies

Theme Studies and Historic Contexts

A theme study is a research document that helps identify potential new National Historic Landmarks and properties that may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as well as potential new units of the National Park System. All such identified properties must be evaluated and determined to be of the appropriate level of significance. It provides the necessary national historic context so that national significance may be evaluated for properties that are related to a specific area of American history. A theme study provides a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area such as women's history, the fur trade, modern architecture, or Civil Rights.

Theme studies are used to evaluate historic properties for national significance because they provide an historic context from which the most appropriate properties within that theme are identified. They may provide important background information for other research efforts. They can be used to educate the public about the nation's heritage through interpretive and educational programs.

An historic context is a body of thematically, geographically, and temporally linked information. It contains the patterns, themes, or trends in history by which a specific property is understood and its historic meaning is made clear. Therefore, historic contexts provide a basis for judging a property's significance and eligibility under the criteria.

Evaluation Guidelines

Evaluation guidelines assist in the application of the National Historic Landmark (NHL) criteria and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) criteria to determine the eligibility of properties for designation or listing. An important aspect of the evaluation process is establishing the integrity of nominated properties. Application of the criteria for both programs and suggestions for evaluating integrity follow. Because the two programs have different criteria for evaluation and consider integrity differently, the discussion will be approached separately for the NHL and NRHP programs.

Property Types

Properties are evaluated for their historical, architectural, and archeological significance. The types of properties that can be considered for NRHP listing or NHL designation include buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects. Part of the evaluation process is determining what property type is being evaluated. A brief description of each property type follows. [1]

Building. A building, such as a house, barn, church, hotel, or similar construction, is created principally to shelter any form of human activity. "Building" may also be used to refer to an historically and functionally related unit, such as a courthouse and jail or a house and barn. Examples of buildings include houses, barns, stables, sheds, garages, courthouses, city halls, social halls, commercial buildings, libraries, factories, mills, train depots, hotels, theaters, schools, and churches.

An American Latino building listed in the NRHP is Casa Amadeo located in the Bronx in New York City. Opened in 1941 by Victoria Hernández and her brother Rafael as Casa Hernández, it was sold in 1969 to musician and composer Mike Amadeo who renamed it Casa Amadeo, antigua Casa Hernández. Today, it is the oldest continuously run Latin music store in the Bronx and is noted for its significance to the Latin music scene in New York City and its role in the Puerto Rican migration experience.

An example of an NHL building that is associated with American Latino heritage is Casa Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Casa was, for forty-three years, the residence and workspace of Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez, a well known writer, prolific literary critic, and one of the most prominent female voices in twentieth-century Puerto Rican literary criticism.Dra. Concha Meléndez Ramírez is closely associated with major trends in Puerto Rican literature, in particular the legacy of Generacin del Treinta (Generation of 1930) a 1930s middle-class creole literary movement that, in response to U.S. control over the island, shaped Puerto Rico's twentieth-century national cultural identity.

Site. A site is the location of a significant event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined, or vanished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure.

Examples of sites include land areas having prehistoric or historic cultural significance, including archeological sites such as habitation sites, funerary sites, rock shelters, village sites, hunting and fishing sites, ceremonial sites, petroglyphs, campsites, rock carvings, and shipwrecks; sites associated with historic events, such as battlefields and sites of treaty signings; sites associated with landscapes, such as gardens, grounds of buildings, designed landscapes, natural features, cemeteries, and other areas of land associated with farming, national parks and other uses; also, ruins of historic buildings and structures, trails, roads, and other corridors.

An NRHP site related to American Latino heritage is the El Cerro Toméin Valencia County, New Mexico. The 179-acre site has played a spiritual role in the lives of local Pueblo and Latino peoples for thousands of years and is still a destination for religious pilgrims. El Cerro Tomé is considered both historically and archeologically significant.

An NHL site related to American Latino heritage is Glorieta Pass Battlefield in New Mexico. In early 1862, a Confederate brigade marched up the Rio Grande Valley from Texas with the intention of invading New Mexico and breaking Union possession of the West along the base of the Rocky Mountains. Federal soldiers, along with Colorado and New Mexico volunteers, met the Confederates at Glorieta Pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The battle ended the Confederate invasion of the Southwest.

Structure. The term "structure" is use to distinguish from buildings those functional constructions usually made for purposes other than creating human shelter.

Examples include transportation construction such as bridges, tunnels, railroad grades, canals, roadways, and systems of roadways and paths; large scale vehicles such as locomotives, aircraft, boats and ships; agricultural structures such as corncribs, grain elevators and silos; energy-related resources such as turbines, dams, power plants, turbines and windmills; fortifications such as palisade fortifications and earthworks; landscape structures such as bandstands, gazebos and carousels; scientific and industrial construction such as gold dredges, shot towers, kilns, fire towers and telescopes; and structures with cultural significance such as mounds and cairns.

A structure associated with American Latinos that is listed in the NRHP is El Camino Del Diablo (The Devil's Road), a 250-mile Spanish colonial road, which originally ran from Caborca, Sonora in Mexico to Yuma Crossing on the Colorado River (modern day Yuma, Arizona). First used by Native Americans and then by Spanish explorers, El Camino Del Diablo offered a shorter and safer route to the Mexican colonies in California than sailing around the Baja Peninsula. The road was used less frequently in the early 19th century, but saw a surge in use during the California gold rushes of the mid 1800's. Its popularity eventually waned with the coming of the railroad to Yuma in 1870.

The Old Mission Dam is a structure associated with American Latino history that is designated as an NHL. The dam was built by Indian laborers and Franciscan missionaries from the Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego, California and was completed in 1817. Water from the dam traveled six miles through a to settling basin where it was used to irrigate the fields around the Mission. The cobblestone and cement dam was one of the first major irrigation-engineering projects on the U.S. Pacific Coast.

Object. The term "object" is used to distinguish from buildings and structures those constructions that are primarily artistic in nature or are relatively small in scale and simply constructed. Although it may be, by nature or design, movable, an object is associated with a specific setting or environment. Examples include sculptures, monuments, boundary markers, statuary, and fountains.

An example of an object associated with American Latinos and listed in the NRHP is the Chinese Sunken Garden Gate (also known as the Japanese Tea Garden Gate), located in Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas. The gate was designed by Maximo Cortes and built in collaboration with Dionicio Rodriguez. Both men were Mexican-American sculptors who worked in the trabajo rustic (faux bois) genre. Reminiscent of a traditional Japanese Torii, the Chinese reference in the gate's name reflects the anti-Japanese sentiment that was common at the time of its construction in 1942.

While there are objects associated with American Latino heritage that are identified as contributing resources in several historic districts, there is currently no object listed individually as an NHL that is associated with American Latinos.

District. A district possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development.

Examples include concentrations of buildings such as central business districts and commercial areas, civic centers, residential areas, and rural villages; campuses such as college and corporate campuses, linear systems such as irrigation systems, canal systems, and transportation networks; large archeological and historic sites such as collections of habitation sites, large forts, and battlefields with complex construction; agricultural development such as farms, ranches, and plantations; designed landscapes such as estates and large parks; and industrial complexes.

The Barrio Libre (Free District) in Tucson, Arizona, is a large Spanish-speaking neighborhood listed in the NRHP as a district. The area was originally settled in the 19th century by laborers from the Presidio de San Agustín del Tucson as well as ranchers who built their town homes in the district. Barrio Libre has played an important role in the development of the city of Tucson and still still retains 19th-century Hispanic traditions of urban form and architecture. The district is noted for its adobe architecture which dates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and exhibits a combination of Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo influences.

The Forty Acres in Delano, California is an example of an NHL district associated with American Latino heritage. In 1966, The Forty Acres became the headquarters for the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), the first permanent agricultural labor union in the U.S. The property is also significant for its role in the Farm Worker Movement, for its close association with the career of César Chávez, and for its association with a wide range of reform movements that helped define twentieth-century American history, and in particular, the Chicano Movement.

Criteria for Evaluation

For a property to be considered eligible for National Register of Historic Places listing or National Historic Landmark designation, it must be evalutaed using the programs' Criteria for Evaluation. Each program has seperate criteria, although the criteria are similar. Each program also has "criteria exceptions," which explain when properties normally not eligible for designation or listing, such as buildings removed from their original locations, can be considered eligible. The criteria and exceptions, as articulated in the Code of Federal Regulations, follow:

National Historic Landmarks Criteria for Evaluation. The National Historic Landmark criteria, as specified in the Code of Federal Regulations,[2] are used to evaluate whether properties are exceptionally significant for their association with events, people, information, and construction of national importance. According to the criteria, national significance can be ascribed to districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that:

Possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States in history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture, and

Possess a high degree of integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and meet the one of the following criteria:

Buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts, can be nationally significant if:

Criterion 1. They are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to, and are identified with, or that outstandingly represent, the broad national patterns of United States history and from which an understanding and appreciation of those patterns may be gained; or

Criterion 2. They are associated importantly with the lives of persons nationally significant in the history of the United States; or

Criterion 3. They represent some great idea or ideal of the American people; or

Criterion 4. They embody the distinguishing characteristics or an architectural type specimen exceptionally valuable for the study of a period, style, or method of construction, or that represent a significant, distinctive, and exceptional entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

Criterion 5. They are composed of integral parts of the environment not sufficiently significant by reason of historical association or artistic merit to warrant individual recognition but collectively compose an entity of exceptional historical or artistic significance, or outstandingly commemorate or illustrate a way of life or culture; or

Criterion 6. They have yielded or may be likely to yield information of major scientific importance by revealing new cultures, or by shedding light upon periods of occupation of large areas of the United States. Such sites are those which have yielded, or which may reasonably be expected to yield, data affecting theories, concepts, and ideas to a major degree.

Properties are often eligible under more than one criterion. For example, The Trujillo Homesteads National Historic Landmark encompasses two 19th century Hispano ranching properties located in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. The area includes the 1865 Teofilo and Andrellita Trujillo Homestead and the 1879 homestead of their son and his wife, Pedro and Sofia Trujillo.

The Trujillo homesteads are nationally significant under National Historic Landmark Criterion 1 in the areas of Exploration and Settlement and Ethnic Heritage (Hispano), under the National Historic Landmark theme of Peopling Places and subthemes Migration from Outside and Within and Encounters, Conflicts, and Colonization. These sites are associated with a broad pattern of United States history: the northward movement of Hispano Americans into a newly acquired region of the American frontier. They represent a pattern of dispersed independent settlement by individuals who focused on amassing available public lands rather than founding colonies on land grants. The sites significantly further the understanding of the nation's Hispano-American legacy and the interlocking of different cultures and economic interests on the frontier.

The Trujillo homesteads are also exceptionally important under National Historic Landmark Criterion 6 in the area of historical archeology because this property has yielded and is likely to yield further information of major scientific importance affecting theories, concepts, and ideas to a major degree. The sites can and will provide data that affects our national understanding about archeological and anthropological theories and concepts related to ethnicity and racialization viewed in the context of settlement and subsistence/economic patterns during the first wave of Hispano settlement north into the newly acquired United States frontier following the Mexican War. Due to their pristine character and extensive archeological remains, the Trujillo homesteads can and have yielded information that could address nationally significant research questions related to these themes and make a major contribution to the understanding of these early Hispano settlers.

National Register of Historic Places Criteria for Evaluation.There are only four criteria for evaluating properties for National Register of Historic Places eligibility. Also specified in the Code of Federal Regulations [3], they read as follows:

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, 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.

Properties are often eligible under more than one criterion. For example, the Ybor Factory Building in Tampa, Florida is significant under both National Register of Historic Places Criterion A (event) and Criterion B (person). The Ybor Factory Building (Vincent Martinez-Ybor Cigar Factory) served as meeting place for Cuban patriots during the 1890s and is where José Martí, a noted author, intellectual thinker, and Cuban national hero, gave his famous Cuba Libre speech in 1893. This speech is credited with helping to launch the Spanish American War.

Differences in National Historic Landmark and National Register of Historic Places Criteria. The six criteria of the National Historic Landmark program include two that are absent from the National Register of Historic Places criteria: Criterion 3 which pertains to properties that "represent some great idea or ideal of the American people," and Criterion 5 which relates to "integral parts of the environment not sufficiently significant by reason of historical association or artistic merit to warrant individual recognition but collectively compose an entity of exceptional historic or artistic significance, or outstandingly commemorate or illustrate a way of life or culture."

Few properties are designated as National Historic Landmarks under Criterion 3, but the Freedom Tower in Miami, Florida, is an excellent example. The building housed the Cuban Assistance Center from 1962 to 1974, offering relief to Cuban refugees who sought political asylum from the Communist regime of Fidel Castro. As the single most identifiable building associated with the Cuban exile experience, it was designated a National Historic Landmark under Criteria 1 and 3 and Exception 8, which allows properties achieving extraordinary national significance within the past 50 years to receive designation. It is significant under Criterion 1 for its association with Cuban exile immigration to the U.S. in the second half of the 20th century. It is significant under Criterion 3 because it represents the American ideal of inclusivity and the firm belief that democracy should be available to all who fight against tyranny and demagoguery.

Criterion 5 is used for the designation of National Historic Landmark historic districts. For properties nominated as districts to the National Register of Historic Places, Criterion C is applied. This criterion is also applied to properties of architectural, artistic, engineering, and landscape architectural significance.

A number of historic districts related to American Latino heritage have been designated National Historic Landmarks. Some of the older National Historic Landmark nominations do not specify the criteria that pertained to the nomination, but one can surmise that Criterion 5 was applied. The Ybor City Historic District in Tampa, Florida, was clearly nominated under Criterion 5. The historic district encompasses the heart of Tampa's cigar industry and contains cigar factory buildings, workers' housing, ethnic clubs organized by Ybor City's immigrants, and the commercial buildings that served the community The Monterey Old Town Historic District, which reflects the community's role as the Spanish, then Mexican, capital of California, was most likely nominated under Criterion 5 as was the Trampas Historic District in Taos County, New Mexico which was first settled in 1751 by Spanish families from Santa Fe.

The National Historic Landmark program only recognizes exceptional, national significance, while the National Register of Historic Places program recognizes local and statewide significance, as well as national significance. Part of the evaluation for both programs is to determine significance in relation to other resources. Thus, for National Historic Landmarks the basis of comparison is other nationally prominent properties, while the National Register of Historic Places may compare properties in a city or town or in a single state. Such comparisons are evaluated within an historic context that demonstrates the relevance of an aspect of history, architecture, archeology, or another area of significance, and indicates how a particular category of property fits into that context.

Local Significance Example (National Register of Historic Places). The Lamesa Farm Workers Community Historic District in Dawson County, Texas, was considered to have" the highest level of historic integrity among the nine FSA (Farm Security Administration) facilities constructed in Texas."[4] It is locally significant for this association and for its association with American Latino history. This historic district encompasses a community developed by the FSA in 1941-1942 to improve housing and living standards for migrant workers, the majority of them Mexican immigrants, in the cotton producing farmlands of West Texas. The context of the nomination explains Mexican immigration to West Texas, projects of the FSA in Texas, and the success of the Lamesa Farm Workers Community.

Statewide Significance Example (National Register of Historic Places). The Rio Hondo Bridge, located in Puerto Rico, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A and C. Designed by Miguel Martinez de Campos and fabricated by the Belgian firm Cia. Participation Belge in 1876 for the Reyes Catolicos Bridge, the metal span survived that bridge's partial destruction during the 1899 San Ciriaco Hurricane. In 1908 it was installed at its present site over the Rio Hondo after modifications designed by Rafael Nones were made to the span. The new bridge became part of the old Comerio-Barranquitas road that provided access to the city of Barranquitas. It is historically significant on a statewide basis because it is the oldest surviving bridge truss in Puerto Rico and its open web transverse joists are one of the only examples of European truss bridge design and technology on the island.<

National Significance Example (National Historic Landmark). The Estudillo House (Casa de Estudillo) in San Diego, California, was completed in 1829 by José Antonio Estudillo, three-times Alcade/Juez de Paz (Mayor/Justice of the Peace) of San Diego. The house was nominated under National Historic Landmark Criterion 4 and was designated for its architectural significance. The Estudillo House is one of the oldest surviving examples of a typical large Spanish-Mexican one-story town house in California and is considered a nationally significant example of a buildingthat reflects Spanish-Mexican architecture.

Criteria Exceptions and Considerations. The National Historic Landmarks program and the National Register of Historic Places acknowledge that properties normally excluded from listing or designation are eligible under certain circumstances. The National Historic Landmark program calls these instances "Criteria Exceptions," while the National Register of Historic Places program calls them "Criteria Considerations."

National Historic Landmark Criteria Exceptions. The following description of exceptions is taken from the Code of Federal Regulations.[5]

Properties that usually are ineligible for National Historic Landmark designation can be designated if they meet certain conditions. 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, and properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years are not eligible for designation.

If such properties fall within the following categories they may, nevertheless, be found eligible for designation.

Exception 1.A religious property deriving its primary national significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance.

Exception 2. A building removed from its original location but which is nationally significant primarily for its architectural merit, or for association with persons or events of transcendent importance in the nation's history and the association consequential.

Exception 3. A site of a building or structure no longer standing but the person or event associated with it is of transcendent importance in the nation's history and the association consequential.

Exception 4. A birthplace, grave or burial if it is of an historical figure of transcendent national significance and no other appropriate site, building, or structure directly associated with the productive life of that person exists.

Exception 5. A cemetery that derives its primary national significance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, or from an exceptionally distinctive design or an exceptionally significant event.

Exception 6. A reconstructed building or ensemble of buildings of extraordinary national significance when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other buildings or structures with the same association have survived.

Exception 7. A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own national historical significance.

Exception 8. A property achieving national significance within the past 50 years if it is of extraordinary national importance.

An example of a National Historic Landmark that meets one of the criteria exceptions is the Cathedral of St. Augustine, in St. Augustine, Florida. The Cathedral is a religious property designated a National Historic Landmark under Criterion 1 and Exception 1. The Cathedral is located in the oldest parish in the United States, established in 1594. Its historical significance is important enough to warrant National Historic Landmark designation, despite the normal exclusion of religious properties.

National Register of Historic Places Criteria Considerations. The Criteria Considerations are also specified in the Code of Federal Regulations.[6] They read as follows:

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, or 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 are not considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. However, such properties do qualify if they are integral parts of districts that meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

Criteria Consideration A. A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or

Criteria Consideration B. A building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with an historic person or event; or

Criteria Consideration C. A birthplace or grave of an historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no other appropriate site or building directly associated with his or her productive life; or

Criteria Consideration D. A cemetery which derives its primary significance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or

Criteria Consideration E. 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

Criteria Consideration F. A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own historical significance; or

Criteria Consideration G. A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

The Chadbourn Spanish Gospel Mission in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is an example of a National Register of Historic Places property that meets one of the Criteria Considerations. The Mission was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its Social History and Ethnic Heritage (American Latino). It was also nominated under Criterion C as an excellent example of the Mission Revival style as applied to ecclesiastical architecture in Colorado Springs. Criteria Consideration A was applied because the Mission is the sole remaining building of a now demolished Mexican immigrant neighborhood. Although it is a property related to religion, it became an integral part of the neighborhood, not only as a religious institution, but also as a community hub, educational center, and refuge for those in need.

Evaluating Integrity

Integrity is evaluated in terms of the same seven qualities for both potential National Historic Landmarks and National Register of Historic Places properties. These qualities are location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. Evaluating integrity is somewhat different between aboveground properties and archeological properties, due to the nature of the properties.

Evaluating Aboveground Integrity [7]

Location is the place where the historic property was constructed or the significant events occurred. To be related to this theme, properties must be located within the boundaries of the United States and its possessions. In some cases, if a component of a property was moved to a new location, such properties may only be eligible with the application of National Historic Landmark Exception 2.

Design is the combination of elements that creates the historic form, plan, space, structure, and style of a property. Design includes such factors as the organization of space, proportion, scale, technology, ornamentation, and materials. Where few historic buildings survive, the ability of the property to convey visually its original planned layout may determine whether integrity of design is retained.

Setting is the physical environment of an historic property. For properties considered under this theme study, the setting includes the character of the places where they were developed, as well as their siting in those places.

Materials are the physical elements that were combined or deposited during a particular period of time and in a particular pattern or configuration to form an historic property. Where materials preserve the footprints of buildings and structures, and indicate the placement of gardens, sidewalks, roads, and other landscape features, the integrity of their placement is an important aspect of the site plan.

Workmanship is the physical evidence of the crafts of a particular culture or people during any given period in history. Workmanship can be important in illustrating a time period associated with an event. This quality is particularly important for architecturally significant properties. Names, dates, and other expressions incised into concrete or carved or painted on wood may document builders' identities and contribute to the integrity of workmanship. Above and belowground archeological evidence may indicate the quality of workmanship that existed in buildings and structures that are no longer extant aboveground. Workmanship also can be applied to residential landscape features. If sufficient integrity exists to decipher the plan or form of a landscape feature, the quality of workmanship can be assessed.

Feeling is a property's expression of the aesthetic or historic sense of a particular period of time. It results from the presence of physical features that, taken together, convey a property's historic character. Precisely mapped above- and belowground archeological features can help to convey visually integrity of feeling, when properly used and interpreted.If buildings, settings, and archeological resources are compromised, a site will most likely lack integrity of feeling.

Association is the direct link between an important historic theme, event, or person and an historic property. A property retains integrity of association if it is the place where the event occurred and it can still convey that historic relationship to an observer. Sites that have been converted to shopping malls or residential developments are lacking associative integrity. A memorial that was built to recognize a site many years later also lacks associative value, because its construction is outside the site's period of significance.

Evaluating Archeological Integrity [8]

Archeological integrity is directly related to the nationally significant information potential of the property and the ability of deposits to contribute significant information to major themes in historical or prehistoric archeology or anthropology. In general, in order to make a contribution to archeology, anthropology, and an understanding of national culture, highly intact archeological deposits are needed.

Highly intact deposits are those that lack serious disturbance to the spatial patterning of surface and subsurface artifacts or features representing different uses or activities. Few properties exhibit wholly undisturbed cultural deposits, because of the myriad cultural and natural formation processes that may impact a site. Thus, the definition of archeological integrity varies from property to property, although archeological deposits must have enough integrity to provide nationally significant information.

An evaluation of archeological integrity follows an assessment of significance, and integrity is related to the specific nationally significant questions being asked at a particular property. Different propertiesmay be significant archeologically for the ability to address questions that cannot be addressed at other types of sites.

Aspects of integrity applied to other resource types may not apply if the property is only nominated under Criterion 6. For example, if a site lacks aboveground integrity in terms of its historic appearance, it should not be assumed the subsurface record also is lost. Although archeological resources require high archeological integrity to be eligible under Criterion 6, it is sufficient for them to have enough integrity to demonstrate that the property can provide nationally significant information that will make a major contribution.

Using a Theme Study

Preservation professionals in government agencies and the private sector consult theme studies to assist them in identifying, evaluating, and nominating historic properties. Faculty in university preservation programs will use theme studies to train students and provide them with important experience in the field of historic preservation.

Theme studies should be thought of as tools to encourage the preservation of places of value to communities nationwide and our collective history.

The National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program and the National Register of Historic Places as Preservation (NRHP) Tools. The NHL program and NRHP are both tools to help recognize and preserve significant places and stories. It is important to understand how these tools work, that is, the effects of NHL designation and NRHP listing.

Designation as an NHL ensures that stories of nationally important historic events, places, or persons are recognized and preserved for the benefit of all citizens. Designation may also provide the property's historic character with a measure of protection against any adverse effect by a project initiated by the Federal government. Additionally, NHLs may be eligible for grants, tax credits, and other opportunities to maintain a property's historic character.

Listing in the NRHP provides formal recognition of a property's historical, architectural, or archeological significance. With listing come many benefits:

  • Becoming part of the NRHP Archives, a public, searchable database that provides a wealth of research information.

  • Encouraging preservation of historic resources by documenting a property's historic significance.

  • Providing opportunities for specific preservation incentives, such as:
    • Federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation
    • Federal investment tax credits
    • Preservation easements to nonprofit organizations

  • International Building Code fire and life safety code alternatives.

  • Possible State tax benefits and grant opportunities.

  • Involvement by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation when a Federal agency project may affect an historic property.

It is also important to understand what designating a property as an NHL or listing a property in the NRHP or does not do.

Designation of a property as an NHL does not give ownership of the property to the Federal government in general or the NPS in particular. NHLs are owned by private individuals; by local and state governments; by tribal entities; by non-profit organizations; and by corporations.

Similarly, NRHP listing places no obligations on private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property. Listing does not lead to public acquisition or require public access. A property will not be listed if, for individual properties, the owner objects, or for districts, a majority of property owners object. NRHP listing does not automatically invoke local historic district zoning or local landmark designation.

To learn more about the NHL and NRHP programs and other preservation tools, visit the NHL website at and the NRHP website at


[1] National Register Bulletin 15, "How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation" (Washington, D.C., 2002), chapter IV.

[2] Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 65.4 (a).

[3] Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 60.4.

[4] "Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month" at, accessed on October 10, 2012.

[5] Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 65.4 (b).

[6] Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Part 60.4.

[7] National Register Bulletin 15, "How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation" (Washington, D.C., 2002), chapter VIII.

[8] National Register Bulletin 36, "Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Archeological Properties" (Washington, D.C., 2002).