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National Register of Historic Places

Buildings and sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ] are distinguished by having been documented and evaluated according to uniform standards.  These criteria recognize the accomplishments of all peoples who have contributed to the history and heritage of the United States and are designed to help state and local governments, federal agencies and others identify important historic and archeological properties worthy of preservation and of consideration in planning and development decisions.

Listing in the National Register contributes to preserving historic properties in a number of ways:

  • Recognition that a property is of significance to the nation, state or community
  • Consideration in the planning of federal or federally funded projects
  • Eligibility for federal and state tax benefits

The National Register challenges us to define how our built environment contributes to an understanding of the historic and cultural foundations of our communities, our state, and our nation.  Because the National Register helps us understand the ways in which historic properties are important, it allows us to make informed decisions regarding their continued use.

Eligibility Criteria

Maple Grove in Washington CountyAccording to National Park Service guidelines, properties eligible for National Register listing must be at least 50 years old - or if not, must be of exceptional importance; must possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association; and meet one of four criteria for evaluation of significance:

A. Properties that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

B. Properties that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or

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, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

D. Properties that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

The significance of a historic property can be judged and explained only when it is evaluated within its historic context. Historic contexts are those patterns or trends in history by which a specific occurrence, property, or site is understood and its meaning (and ultimately its significance) within history or prehistory is made clear.

Throughout the 1990s, authors of Kentucky Register nominations fully implemented the “context-based” system of evaluation required by the Park Service. This approach to defining the significance of the nominated resource calls for the property to be compared with other similar kinds of properties.  By this process of comparison, the meaning and value of the nominated property can be better understood.

What does the National Register mean for property owners?

Listing in the National Register confers honorary status on historic sites and does not place any restrictions or obligations on property owners.  National Register listing is meant to recognize properties of historic importance and should not be confused with local historic designations, which may require that any proposed work or alteration of a building or site be reviewed and approved by a local architectural review committee.

National Register listing does offer benefits such as making these sites eligible for federal and state historic preservation tax credits and other incentive programs.  Listing also provides a measure of protection from federally funded projects, such as a proposed highway or federally insured bank construction or expansion.

What are the benefits of National Register listing?

Designation as a National Register property provides potential tax benefits.  Income-producing properties (such as retail businesses, apartments, bed and breakfasts, and other commercial buildings) listed in or eligible for the National Register may qualify for federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, while commercial and owner-occupied buildings listed in the National Register or contributing to a National Register district may be eligible for the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit.  To qualify, proposed rehabilitation must be reviewed and approved by Heritage Council staff and done in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ], outlined in the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings. External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain.

Additionally, federal survey and planning grants are available for activities such as the preparation of National Register nominations, preservation planning, or identification and documentation of historic buildings, sites and structures, among others.  Grants are awarded on a 60/40 matching basis.

Another important benefit of listing is the honorary designation achieved through placement on the National Register, which often lends credibility to efforts to preserve these resources as viable, functioning, community assets.  Additionally, the documentation required for National Register listing helps communities to understand, recognize and appreciate the historic significance of their unique historic resources.

All the sites that achieve listing also receive designation as a Kentucky Landmark and receive a certificate signed by the Governor which deems it “worthy of preservation.”  The designation is simply an honorary one, yet serves as another valuable preservation tool available through the Kentucky Heritage Council to help foster pride of ownership in historic properties.

For more information about the National Register in Kentucky


Marty Perry
National Register Coordinator
(502) 564-7005, ext. 132


Related Content

How do I list my property on the National Register?

What kind of information does a National Register nomination require?

Can anyone list a site in the National Register?

What is the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board and what is its role in the National Register process?

Who can I contact to help prepare a National Register nomination for my property?


Last Updated 7/19/2017