Our Mission

Purpose of the National Historic Landmarks Program

The National Historic Landmarks Program oversees the designation of NHLs and encourages the long-range preservation of these nationally signficant properties. 

The designation of a property as an NHL:

  • Preserves the stories of nationally important historic events, places, and people for all Americans.
  • Helps to protect the historic character of the property from any federal action.
  • Might facilitate eligibility for grants, tax credits, and other opportunities to maintain its historic character.

After designation, the program monitors properties and offers technical assistance.

What are National Historic Landmarks?

National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are historic places with exceptional value because they commemorate or illustrate the history of the United States. There are just over 2,600 National Historic Landmarks. All NHLs are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

NHLs come in many forms: buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts. A historic site may be important enough to receive designation as an NHL if it:

  • is the location with the strongest association with a turning point or significant event in American history.
  • is the best location to tell the story of an individual who played a significant role in the history of the United States.
  • is an exceptional representation of a particular building or engineering method, technique, or building type in the country.
  • provides the potential to yield new and innovative information about the past through archeology.

Did You Know?

Most NHLs are owned by private citizens, organizations, corporations, tribal entities, or federal, state, or local governments. The federal government owns fewer than four hundred NHLs (16 percent). The laws that govern property rights still apply to Landmarks. Designation of a property as a National Historic Landmark does not give ownership of the property to the federal government or the National Park Service.

Last updated: August 26, 2022