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National Register nomination process in Georgia

National Register Nomination Process

 

Contact
Lynn Speno, National Register & Survey Specialist
lynn.speno@dnr.ga.gov or 770-389-7842



We have updated our photography requirements for HPIFs and HDIFs - please see section 5B for details!

Part 1: Where to Start
Part 2: Application Forms
Part 3: HPD’s Review Process of Proposed Nominations
Part 4: Additional Information Review, Site Visits, and Scheduling for Review Board
Part 5: Georgia National Register Review Board
Part 6: Completing the Nomination Process

Georgia’s National Register program is administered by the Historic Preservation Division (HPD), the state’s historic preservation office.  HPD encourages National Register proposals from the public for a wide variety of properties to meet the state’s historic preservation needs.  However, due to current staffing levels, a typical nomination can take up to 18 months to process after it is accepted and approved by our office.  Additionally, particularly complex nominations (for instance, large districts, unusual properties, or nominations based on multiple criteria) can take up to two years to complete from the time National Register staff prepares the final nomination to final approval by the National Park Service.

The process, criteria, and applications forms for listing properties in the Georgia Register of Historic Places are the same as listing properties in the National Register in Georgia.

Part 1: Where to Start

The National Register of Historic Places establishes a uniform standard for evaluating and documenting historic places that are worthy of preservation.  The process for listing a property or district in the National Register begins with the state historic preservation office (SHPO).  Each SHPO administers the National Register program for their state and each SHPO may have a different process for submitting proposed nominations to the National Register.  As Georgia’s SHPO, the Historic Preservation Division has a user-friendly process for submitting proposed nominations to our office.  We are continually revising and updating the process for efficiency and clarity.  Information about the National Register in Georgia including forms and guidance material is available on our website.

The first step is to determine what historic property you want to nominate.  “Historic property” is a general term for historic places listed in the National Register.  For this purpose, a "property" is a building, site, structure, object, or district.  The National Register lists individual historic properties such as a building (e.g. a house, school, or courthouse), site (e.g. a cemetery or battlefield), structure (e.g. a bridge, tunnel, or bandstand), or object (e.g. a monument, fountain, or sculpture).  The National Register also lists historic districts.  A district is defined as a concentration of historic buildings, sites, structures, and objects in their historical setting (e.g. neighborhoods, downtowns, large farms, or whole cities).  "Historic" in terms of the National Register is generally 50 years old or older, although there are exceptions.  For districts, a majority of properties within the district are 50 years old or older, and again, there are exceptions.

Historic properties listed in the National Register must have historic significance and integrity.  Significance is defined by the National Register Criteria for Evaluation.   A property must meet at least one of the four National Register Criteria:

  • association with historic events or activities;
  • association with important persons;
  • distinctive design or physical characteristics (architecture, landscape architecture and/or engineering);
  • or the potential to provide important information about prehistory or history (usually through archaeological investigation). 

Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its significance through its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.  In a short version: integrity = retains historic character.

To assist you in determining whether your historic property has historic significance and integrity and might qualify for listing in the National Register, we encourage you to send preliminary information to our office.  Our National Register staff will review the preliminary information and give you guidance on the next step in the process. 
- Individual Properties
- Districts
- Cemeteries

Please send the information in hard copy format with clear, well-focused, well-lit photographs printed on photograph paper.  At this time, our email server does not allow for large files so unfortunately we are unable to electronically review preliminary information.

If your historic property appears to be eligible for listing, we will send you a letter along with suggestions for research, sources of information, or examples of similar properties already listed in the National Register.  If the property does not appear to meet the National Register Criteria, we will send a letter of explanation.  We may also send a letter requesting clarification, additional information, or a site visit to the property. 

Part 2: Application Forms

In Georgia, we encourage property owners and/or sponsors to send in preliminary information before completing the application forms.  If the historic property appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register, our staff will send a letter encouraging you to complete either a Historic Property Information Form (HPIF) or a Historic District Information Form (HDIF).

A HPIF is used to document an individual building, site, structure, or object (ex: a house, church, depot, school, cemetery, bridge, monument, etc.).  It can also be used to document a small complex of related historic properties (ex: church and cemetery; house and garden; courthouse and jail; farmhouse and outbuildings).

A HDIF is used to document a historic district or number of related historic properties (ex.  residential neighborhood; downtown commercial area; entire city; college campuses; large farms with outbuildings, tenant houses, and agricultural fields).

The HPIF/HDIF provides a step-by-step outline and guidance for the information needed to document a property to HPD and National Register standards.  The forms explain what is needed for written documentation (the description, history, and significance sections) and what is needed for supporting documentation (photographs, maps, floor plans, site plans, photocopies of historical research).  The forms also identify property owners and/or sponsors of the nomination.

The forms were developed by HPD’s National Register staff to allow for successful nominations by people who may not have a background in history, preservation, or architecture.  Experience has shown that a careful reading and following of directions in the HPIF/HDIF will provide excellent results. 

Anyone can complete a HPIF/HDIF with consent from the property owner(s). In Georgia, a majority of proposed nominations are written by the property owner or a sponsoring organization.  Sponsors may be a local historical society, neighborhood association, volunteer, historic preservation commission, or other interested party.  A professional consultant can be hired to prepare your nomination also.  HPD’s website has a directory of preservation consultants.

The National Register Registration Form is the official form completed and sent to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, DC along with archival photographs and maps required for all nominations. 

In Georgia, HPD recommends that proposed nominations be submitted to our office on the HPIF/HDIF.  The information called for in the HPIF/HDIF is required to document and support a National Register nomination and is based on NPS National Register form and instructions.  The information is just presented in a different format that is easier to prepare and more useful for HPD review.

For properties that meet the National Register Criteria, HPD’s National Register staff will prepare the final, official National Register Registration Form, archival photographs, and final maps to submit to the Keeper of the National Register.  HPD’s staff uses information provided by the property owner(s) and/or sponsors as well as their professional knowledge and established terminology to produce professionally and technically correct nominations to the National Register.

Nominations can, of course, be submitted to our office on the National Register Registration Form.  (Please be advised that our office uses this form and not the one that can be found on the National Park Service web page.)  However, Section 1 and supporting documentation requested in Section 5 of the HPIF/HDIF must accompany the nomination form.  HPD recommends using the HPIF/HDIF as a guide to insure all required information for state-level review and processing is included.

Please send your completed HPIF/HDIF and required supporting documentation (including photographs, maps, CD/DVD, etc.) via U.S. mail to:

Lynn Speno, National Register & Survey Specialist 
DNR Historic Preservation Division
Jewett Center for Historic Preservation
2610 GA Hwy 155, SW
Stockbridge, GA 30281

There is no cost or fee to submit a National Register nomination to HPD.  Please save resources and do not mail nomination materials in plastic page covers and/or binders of any kind.  Please do not mount photographs on paper or send in plastic sleeves.  Please keep packaging and formatting simple and recyclable. Any oversized maps may be neatly folded and included with the other material or, if necessary, sent separately in a mailing tube. 

Part 3: HPD’s Review Process of Proposed Nominations

As Georgia’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), HPD is responsible for nominating eligible properties to the NRHP.  The SHPO’s responsibilities, the NRHP, and the nomination process are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 60).

The state-level review process begins when a property owner(s) and/or sponsor makes an official request for nomination by submitting a completed Historic Property Information Form (HPIF), Historic District Information Form (HDIF), or National Register Registration Form with the required supporting documentation to HPD.

Upon receipt at HPD, proposed nominations are entered into our National Register logging/tracking database and a checklist is completed to verify that requested supporting documentation is submitted (See Section 5 in the HPIF and HDIF for the checklist).  If information critical for a review, such as current photographs, floor plans, site plans, and/or district maps, is not included, we will notify the applicant in writing and the proposed nomination is put "on-hold" until the requested information is submitted.  Proposed nominations that do include critical supporting documentation are then scheduled for review by HPD’s National Register staff during an in-house meeting.  Federal regulations give a timeline of 60 days for review but we generally review proposed nominations within 30 days.

HPD’s National Register staff consists of architectural historians and historians under the direction of the National Register Program Manager and the Historic Resources Section Chief.  Proposed nominations of archaeological sites are also reviewed by HPD’s deputy state archaeologist(s).  See our staff directory for details.

HPD’s National Register staff reviews proposed nominations and is charged with determining:

  • whether or not the property is adequately documented (a "property" is defined as a building, structure, site, object, or district);
  • whether or not the property appears to meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation

Reviews of proposed nominations follow guidance set forth by the National Park Service in the National Register Bulletins.

Our staff reviews the written description and compares it to the current and historic photographs, floor plans, site plans, and maps for accuracy and completeness.  Some of the things we look for are:

  • does the description provide a current "verbal photograph" of the entire property?
  • is the description cross-referenced to the photographs?
  • are all changes, alterations, and/or additions over time thoroughly described? For individual properties, exterior and interior changes to materials, design, floor plan, setting, and workmanship are reviewed.  For historic districts, loss of historic buildings; new construction; and changes in design, materials, setting, and workmanship to historic buildings, sites, structures, and/or objects in the district are evaluated.

Next, we review the developmental history and all additional supporting documentation for accuracy and thoroughness.  Some of the things we look for are:

  • Is the developmental history a concise, factual account of the history and development of the property, from its origins to the present time?
  • Is the information presented chronologically and organized by major historical periods or eras associated with the property with specific dates provided?
  • Does the developmental history document specific important persons, events, and activities associated with the property?
  • Are original, subsequent, and current uses and functions of the property identified?
  • Is the acquisition of land, the construction of buildings and other structures, the development of landscaping, and any major changes to the property over time, with specific attention to extant buildings, structures, and landscape features thoroughly discussed?
  • Are any known architects, engineers, builders, contractors, landscape architects, gardeners, and/or other artists or craftsmen identified with basic biographical information?
  • Were critical primary and secondary sources of information researched and properly cited?

After our in-house review, we notify the property owner(s) and/or sponsors of the result in writing.  The four possible outcomes of our state-level review are:

  1. The property is fully documented to National Register and HPD standards and the property appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register.  The proposed nomination moves to the next step in the process.
  2. The property is not fully documented but appears to be eligible for listing.  This is very common and a majority of proposed nominations need additional research and documentation so be prepared to follow up.  We will send a letter requesting additional information and provide guidance on what is needed, why it is needed, and where to find the information.  It is the responsibility of the property owner/sponsor to provide the additional information.  The proposed nomination is put "on hold" in our office until we receive the requested information.  There is no deadline or expiration date and proposed nominations are kept in our office indefinitely until we receive the additional information.
  3. We cannot determine whether a property appears to be eligible for listing based on the information submitted.  In this case, we will request a site visit to the property or additional information.
  4. We determine that the property is not eligible for listing in the National Register.  In this case, we will send a letter explaining the basis for our decision.  If you want to appeal our decision to the Keeper of the National Register, the appeals process is available online in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 60.12).

Throughout the National Register nomination process, we encourage you to contact our National Register staff by email or phone if you have any questions.  We can also suggest sources of information and provide examples of similar National Register nominations that may be useful to you.

Part 4:
Additional Information Review, Site Visits, and Scheduling for Review Board

For a majority of proposed nominations, it is very common that we request additional information to document the property to HPD and National Register standards.  Upon receipt at HPD, additional information is entered into our National Register logging/tracking database and is reviewed by HPD’s National Register staff during an in-house meeting.  We generally review the information within 30 days. 

After our in-house review, we notify the property owner(s) and/or sponsors of the result in writing.  There are three possible outcomes:

1. The property is fully documented to HPD and National Register standards and the property appears to be eligible for listing in the National Register.  The proposed nomination moves to the next step in the process.

2. The property is still not fully documented but appears to be eligible for listing.  We will send another letter requesting additional information and provide guidance on what is needed, why it is needed, and where to find the information.  Again, it is the responsibility of the property owner/sponsor to provide the additional information.  The proposed nomination is put “on hold” in our office until we receive the requested information.  There is no deadline or expiration date and proposed nominations are kept in our office indefinitely until we receive the additional information. 

3. We determine that the property is not eligible for listing in the National Register.  In this case, we will send a letter explaining the basis for our decision.  If you want to appeal our decision to the Keeper of the National Register, the appeals process is available online in the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 60.12).

For some proposed individual properties and for every historic district nomination, HPD staff will request a site visit during this step in the state-level review process.  We will contact the property owner/sponsor of the nomination by phone or email to set up the site visit.  In some cases, we may need to see the property first-hand in order to determine whether it is eligible for listing in the National Register.  In other cases, we may need to see the extent of changes, additions, and/or alterations to the property.  In some cases, our architectural historians may need to crawl under the building or in the attic in order to determine a possible date of construction of a building. 

For every district nomination, HPD staff makes a site visit to the district to determine the final National Register boundaries and identify each parcel within the district as contributing, noncontributing, or vacant following the procedures in the National Park Service National Register Bulletins.  We use the maps submitted by the sponsor as field maps and make changes when necessary.

In some cases, a site visit may provide new information or raise questions about a property that were not previously known or addressed in the submitted documentation.  We will then send a letter to the property owner/sponsor requesting additional information and the nomination is put “on hold” until we receive the information.  This is not common, but it has happened.    

Once the property is fully documented to HPD and National Register standards, a letter is sent to the property owner/sponsor indicating that the documentation is complete and the nomination will be scheduled for a Georgia National Register Review Board meeting, the next step in the state-level review.

Due to recent budget cuts and staff reductions, review board meetings are now held twice a year in February and August (check our website for date, place, and time).  Nominations are scheduled for a review board meeting according to priority.  These priorities were established by the review board in the 1980s and are weighed toward properties that will benefit the most by National Register listing. The highest priority is given for threatened or endangered properties, properties that are receiving tax incentives or grants, districts, and properties associated with minority groups.  Next in line are community landmark buildings, publicly owned properties, and properties that are not threatened or receiving a direct benefit from listing. 

Review board schedules are set three to four months in advance to allow for photography site visits and the notification process required in the federal regulations governing the National Register (36 CFR 60).  When a proposed nomination is scheduled for a review board, we will notify the property owner/sponsor by letter.  For an individual property, we will contact the property owner/sponsor to set up a date to formally photograph the property for the final National Register nomination.  For district nominations, photographs are taken from the public right-of-way and we schedule these site visits according to weather, staff availability, and other considerations.

Part 5: Georgia National Register Review Board 

The Georgia National Register Review Board meets twice a year—in the fall and spring.  As defined in the federal regulations governing the National Register (36 CFR 60), the review board is "a body whose members represent the professional fields of American history, architectural history, historic architecture, prehistoric and historic archaeology, and other professional disciplines and may include citizen members."  The review board is responsible for reviewing and commenting on the National Register eligibility of all proposed National Register nominations before the nominations are submitted by HPD to the National Park Service.  List of the current board members.

HPD takes several actions before a review board meeting: summaries of each proposed nomination are prepared, formal notifications of the proposed nominations are sent, and PowerPoint presentations are prepared.  

Proposed nominations are assigned to HPD’s National Register staff who will present the proposals to the review board and prepare the final nomination materials.  Staff  write summaries of each proposed nomination.  The summary is a one-page synopsis based on the research and documentation submitted to our office in the HPIF or HDIF.  The summary includes a description and location of the property as well as the applicable National Register Criteria and a summary of the significance of the property.  A map indicating the National Register boundary is also included.   It is important to keep in mind that the summary is just that—a brief summary of the important facts and attributes of a proposed nomination taken from a much larger compilation of research.   

The formal notification process is outlined in the federal regulations governing the National Register (36 CFR 60).  HPD sends a notification packet by U.S. mail, 30 to 75 days before a review board meeting, to those property owners and government officials directly associated with the property or district.  A property owner is defined as the property owner(s) on record with the official land recordation or tax records.  The packet includes a notification cover letter, National Register Fact Sheet, National Register Criteria for Evaluation, and the summary.  The notification cover letter provides instructions on how private property owners can concur with or object to the proposed nomination.  The letter also solicits written comments regarding the significance of the property or district from property owners, local government officials, and interested parties prior to the review board meeting.

For districts with less than 50 property owners, a notification packet is sent to each property owner listed in official property tax records.  For districts with more than 50 property owners, a legal advertisement is placed by HPD in the local legal organ (newspaper) 30 to 75 days prior to the review board meeting.  

The notification process provides the opportunity for private property owner(s) to concur with or object to listing.  If a property owner wishes to object to the listing, the property owner must send a notarized letter to HPD that certifies:

  1. they are the sole or partial owner of private property and
  2. they officially object to the nomination.  If a majority of private property owners object, the property proposed for nomination will not be officially listed in the National Register.

For district nominations, HPD staff usually arranges a public information meeting with the local sponsor of the nomination.  An informal public meeting is held at a public place in or near the district (i.e. city hall, community center, local historical society or other public meeting space) for residents of the district and other interested citizens.  HPD staff presents a PowerPoint presentation about the National Register and the proposed district nomination, answers questions, and solicits comments. The meeting also provides an educational opportunity for the public to learn more about HPD’s preservation programs and to get answers to questions about the National Register process. 

Review board meetings are open to the public.  During the meeting, HPD’s National Register staff formally presents a 10-15 minute PowerPoint presentation on each proposed nomination to the board.  The board has an opportunity to comment or ask questions about the proposed nomination.  Property owners and other interested parties in attendance are given an opportunity to speak before the board.  The board then formally votes on whether or not the proposed nomination appears to meet the National Register Criteria. For most proposed nominations, the board votes in favor and the nomination goes to the next step in the process.  The board can also vote to table a proposed nomination (usually to request additional research or analysis) or to recommend that the proposed nomination does not meet the National Register Criteria.  The board’s role is advisory and the decision to forward a proposed nomination to the National Register rests with the state historic preservation officer or his/her designated authority.  In Georgia, these decisions are made by HPD’s Division Director.

 Part 6: Completing the Nomination Process

After a proposed nomination is approved by the Georgia National Register Review Board, HPD’s Division Director officially lists the property or district in the Georgia Register of Historic Places.  The Georgia Register has the same criteria and process as the National Register of Historic Places and is the criteria associated with Georgia’s state tax incentives and HPD’s grant program.    

The final step in the National Register process is preparing the official documentation to submit to the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, DC.  The requirements for submission to the National Register are provided in the National Register Bulletin: How to Complete the National Register Registration Form.  A National Register nomination consists of the National Register Registration Form, archival-quality photographs, a United States Geological Survey map, one or more property or district maps, and additional supporting documentation, as required. 

In Georgia, HPD’s National Register staff assists in this final step by providing professional and technical expertise to compile the required documentation in the required format.  This final step can take from 18 to 24 months, although National Register staff generally are able to complete final documentation in less than a year.

Information provided in the HPIF or HDIF by the sponsor is edited and augmented with professional terminology and/or additional research by the staff and is incorporated into the National Register Registration Form.  The official, archival-quality photographs taken by HPD staff of the property or district are printed, labeled, and listed in the nomination form.  One or more maps are prepared for the nomination, which can include a National Register boundary map, site plan, district map, and floor plans.  These maps are based on the documentation submitted by the nomination sponsor.  The National Register boundary map indicates, to scale, the property or district being nominated.  For individual properties, a site plan is prepared that indicates the relative size, scale, and relationship of contributing and noncontributing buildings, sites, structures, and/or objects on the property.  For a district map, a tax parcel map of the area being nominated is the most common type of map included in a nomination.  Tax parcel maps are used to indicate streets, street addresses, lot sizes, rights-of-way, and other important geographic features as well which parcels are within the National Register boundary.  Each legal parcel within the National Register boundary is marked as contributing or noncontributing.  Some parcels in districts may have more than one building, site, structure, or object; each is evaluated and labeled accordingly.  Photographs are keyed to the site plan or district map and cross-referenced in the text.  For buildings, current floor plans are often included in the nomination. Interior photographs are often keyed to the floor plans and cross-referenced in the text. 

For some nominations, additional supporting documentation provided by the sponsor is scanned or photocopied and submitted with the nomination form, such as historic photographs, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, original floor plans, historic maps, postcard views, or other relevant materials.

The completed nomination form is reviewed and signed by the HPD’s Division Director and sent to the Keeper of the National Register at the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, in Washington, DC.  Once received, the Keeper has a 45-day review period.  As part of the review process, the National Register publishes notice in the Federal Register that the property or district is being considered for listing in the National Register. A 15-day commenting period from date of publication is provided. When necessary to assist in the preservation of historic properties this 15-day period may be shortened or waived.   A list of pending National Register nominations and the date they were received is available on the National Register’s website.

At the end of the 45-day review period, the Keeper of the National Register determines whether the proposed nomination meets the National Register Criteria and has been adequately documented.  If it meets these requirements, the nomination is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places and an announcement is posted on the National Register’s weekly list.  In rare cases, a nomination may be returned to HPD for additional research and documentation.  If this occurs, it is the responsibility of the sponsor to provide additional research and documentation as necessary.  In very rare cases, a proposed nomination is determined not to qualify for listing by the Keeper.

After HPD is notified of National Register listing, a photocopy of the official National Register nomination form, photographs, maps, and any additional documentation submitted as part of the official nomination is sent to the sponsor(s) of the nomination along with a certificate suitable for framing.  A photocopy of the nomination materials is also sent to the preservation planner at the regional commission, local historical society, historic preservation commission staff, and other public agencies, as necessary.  A press release is prepared and distributed by HPD, and the listing is publicized through our website and social media.  A copy of the National Register nomination form and all research, documentation, and other materials associated with the nomination permanently remains on file at HPD.   

The Historic Preservation Division encourages owners of historic properties to display National Register plaques as a means of recognizing and promoting the National Register program, but plaques are neither a requirement of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior program nor are they supplied by either office.

While the Historic Preservation Division and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources do not endorse any manufacturer of plaques, our office does provide a list of foundries as a public service. These companies are known as experienced producers of National Register plaques.

(Revised 11/2012)