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National Register of Historic Places Overview

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. It is administered by the National Park Service under the Secretary of the Interior.

Properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. These resources contribute to an understanding of the historical and cultural foundations of the nation. 

Places are listed on the National Register of Historic Places by being nominated by the states, federal agencies and others and have been approved by the National Park Service. The process for nominating a property in Iowa is managed by the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa.

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places has the following results which assist in preserving historic properties:

  • Recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, state or community
  • Consideration in the planning for federal or federally assisted projects
  • Eligibility for federal tax benefits
  • Consideration in the decision to issue a surface coal mining permit
  • Qualification for federal assistance for historic preservation, when funds are available

National Register of Historic Places properties are distinguished by having been documented and evaluated according to uniform standards. The Secretary of the Interior's criteria for evaluation and documentation are used by every state and territory and by federal agencies to identify important historic and archeological properties worthy of preservation and of consideration in making planning and development decisions.

The program provides federal, state, local governments and the general public the following:

  • National recognition of the value of historic properties individually and collectively to the nation
  • Eligibility for federal tax incentives and other preservation assistance
  • Assistance in cultural resource planning

Preservation Assistance

Private preservation efforts, spurred a listing on the National Register of Historic Places has resulted in a rise in the value of historic properties and in the creation of construction, business and employment opportunities. Documentation used for evaluating and registering historic properties is the basis for decisions about which properties merit tax incentives or federal assistance, in addition to how the properties should be treated to respect the historic character.

State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa

Most nominations to the National Register of Historic Places are made by the states through State Historic Preservation Offices. State Historic Preservation Programs must be approved by the Secretary of the Interior before the states nominate historic properties.

The responsibilities of the State Historic Preservation Office include:

  • prepares and implements a comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan
  • administers the state program of federal assistance for historic preservation within the state
  • conducts a statewide survey of historic properties, and cooperates with federal, state and local officials and others to assure that historic properties are taken into consideration at all levels of planning and development
  • provides public information, education and training, and technical assistance relating to the Federal and State Historic Preservation Programs.
  • assists local governments in becoming certified to participate in the Federal Historic Preservation Program, including the process for nominating properties to the National Register.
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