National Register Myths Debunked

By Danielle

It seems like almost every day, PAWV is debunking myths related to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).  There is so much misinformation floating surrounding this listing, and this post is going to highlight the top three myths.

But first, what is the National Register of Historic Places?  .

The NRHP is an honorary listing recognizing our nation’s most historic places.  According to the National Park Service’s website, the NRHP “is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.”   There are 90,540 listings in the NRHP.

Myth 1: Placing a building on the NRHP restricts use or sale of a property.

FACT: NRHP Listing does not place any property restrictions on the owner.  Many NRHP properties, such as historic schools or commercial buildings, have changed ownership and maintained the historic listing.

Historic homes change ownership over the years, but the properties are still recognized for their historic significance. Pictured here: Wright Residence, Huntington Photo credit: Alexandra Coffman

Historic homes change ownership over the years, but the properties are still recognized for their historic significance.
Pictured here: Wright Residence, Huntington
Photo credit: Alexandra Coffman

Myth 2: NRHP listing requires the owner to give tours of the property or open it to the public.

FACT: Public property listed in the NRHP often is open to the public for tours and other educational initiatives, but there are no requirements to do this.  Many residences and commercial buildings are listed in the NRHP, and the owner can do what he/she wants with the property.

Some people choose to have their homes open for tours during holiday events.  The Goodwill House in Bramwell is usually featured on Bramwell's Historic Homes Tour.

Some people choose to have their homes open for tours during holiday events. The Goodwill House in Bramwell is usually featured on Bramwell’s Historic Homes Tour generally held each May.

PAWV's office in Elkins is listed in the NRHP.  There are several offices in this building.  It is open to the public for some special events, but it is generally closed based on the offices' working hours.

PAWV’s office building in Elkins is listed in the NRHP. There are several offices in this building. It is open to the public for some special events, but it is generally closed based on the offices’ working hours.

Myth 3: When a building is listed on the NRHP, the owner cannot change the look of the building or demolish it – or must follow certain guidelines for rehabilitation.

FACT: There are no special protections or government regulations to stop demolition or preserve NRHP-listed properties.  A property owner can change the windows, paint the building any color, or demolish it.  The property owner can also choose not to have the property listed in the NRHP.

However, if a property owner is awarded grant funds or historic rehabilitation tax credits to preserve her building, then she has to follow the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation.

Mt. de Chantal Visitation Academy was listed in the NRHP when it was demolished in 2011.  The building was located in Wheeling.

Mt. de Chantal Visitation Academy was listed in the NRHP when it was demolished in 2011. The building was located in Wheeling.

There are several benefits to having a property listed in the NRHP.  Listing opens up funding opportunities for historic preservation grant funds and historic rehabilitation tax credits.  The listing also recognizes that you own a special place that had an impact on the development of our state and country.  It’s a listing that invokes pride and should be valued not avoided.

Have more questions about the NRHP?  PAWV gives workshops on the listing and how to nominate a property or historic district to the list.  Contact PAWV at info@pawv.org or by calling 304-345-6005.

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One response to “National Register Myths Debunked

  1. Brilliant! Fabulous premise for a post! Keep ’em coming! What about FAQs you hear on your preservation travels?

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