When nominating a building, district or other resource for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park Service requires a showing of that property’s “historical significance,” as well as other key features, such as it being over 50 years old. The National Park Service defines historic significance as “the importance of a property to the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture of a community, State or the nation.” Generally, there are four main criteria that can provide an acceptable level of “significance” for that property to be placed on the Register. These are:
- Criteria A – Properties that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history
- Criteria B – Properties that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past
- Criteria C – Properties that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values
- Criteria D – Properties that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history
Most nominated residential and commercial properties fall under Criteria A or C. This is because a nominated property or district usually represents a specific historical pattern of development, a particular architectural or vernacular style, or an specific era of construction, or some combination of the three. If the property is associated with the life of a famous person, then Criteria B comes into play. Criteria D is most associated with archeological sites and ancient ruins.
Therefore, when preparing a nomination for a historic property or district, the narrative section must focus on these criteria, carefully weaving the property’s history together with the broader patterns of community development, architecture and housing patterns to provide evidence that the property or district meets one or more these criteria.
Below are links to some posts from individual projects that show examples of features that support historic significance under one or more of the NPS criteria.
RIVERSIDE DRIVE HISTORIC DISTRICT