The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic places throughout the United States recognized by the National Park Service to be worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a nationwide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. Listing on the National Register does not prevent a property from being demolished, but does provide powerful tools for preservation. Eligibility for federal historic preservation tax credits, preservation easements, and reviews of federal undertakings are a few of the major benefits available to properties listed on the National Register. To be listed on the National Register, a property must usually be at least 50 years old and retain much of its original appearance. In addition, it must also:
A) be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
B) be associated with the lives of persons significant in the past; or
C) embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D) have yielded or may be likely to yield information important in history or prehistory.
The National Register of Historic Places includes listings for both individual properties and historic districts. Properties included within designated districts listed on the National Register are generally eligible for all the same benefits available to individually-listed properties.
The National Register in Philadelphia
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and its Bureau for Historic Preservation are responsible for managing the National Register in Philadelphia and throughout the Commonwealth. In Philadelphia, nearly 500 properties are individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with more than 60 National Register historic districts containing approximately 20,000 additional properties. You can search the National Register on the State’s Cultural Resources Geographic Information System website to find out if your property or your neighborhood is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Please note: the system only supports Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher. For an unofficial list of National Register properties and districts in Philadelphia, click here.
National Register Nominations
The process of nominating a property or district to the National Register begins with the submission of a Historic Resource Survey Form to the PHMC. This form is reviewed by the Bureau for Historic Preservation to determine whether or not the property is eligible for inclusion on the National Register. Once a preliminary determination of eligibility is made, a full nomination must be completed and reviewed by both the state and the National Park Service. The National Park Service’s How to Complete the National Register Registration Form Bulletin provides a comprehensive overview of the nomination process. While anyone can complete and submit a full nomination, applications are often completed by professional preservation consultants (click here for a list of consultants maintained by the PHMC). Click here for a few examples of completed nominations.