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National Register of Historic Places

Administered by the National Park Service and state historic preservation offices, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of historic and archaeological resources deemed worthy of preservation. The National Register recognizes districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a federal program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.

The Kentucky Heritage Council has been widely recognized for its successful National Register program. In fact, among states, Kentucky has the fourth highest number of listings (following New York, Massachusetts and Ohio) - with more than 3,400 districts, sites and structures encompassing more than 42,000 historic features.

Buildings and sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places 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.

What does National Register listing mean for property owners?

Listing in the National Register confers honorary status on historic sites and does not affect property ownership rights or 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.

Owners of National Register properties may qualify for state and/or federal tax credits for rehabilitation to standards set forth by the Secretary of the Interior, as certified by the Kentucky Heritage Council, or by making a charitable contribution of a preservation easement.

What are the benefits?

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 the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, 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. Often, the federal and state credit may be used in tandem. To qualify, proposed rehabilitation must be reviewed and certified by Kentucky Heritage Council staff and completed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, outlined in the Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.

Additionally, federal survey and planning grants are available for activities such as preparing National Register nominations, preservation planning, or identifying and documenting historic buildings, sites and structures, among others. Grants are awarded on a 60/40 matching basis. For more, visit ...

An important benefit of National Register listing is that the honorary status conferred by this designation often lends credibility to efforts to preserve these historic 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 local historic resources.

Can anyone list a site?

Yes! The Heritage Council is a leader in helping Kentuckians turn a National Register nomination into a do-it-yourself project.

The documentation required to get a property listed involves a typewritten form, photography and mapping. While completing a National Register nomination does require comprehensive research and basic writing skills, Kentucky Heritage Council staff are available to answer questions and guide you through this process. Additionally, the National Register office has published a series of detailed "How to" bulletins to assist authors.

How to Complete the National Register Registration Form gives step-by-step instructions, and other bulletins offer advice on nominating particular classes of resources such as battlefields, historic mines, ships or designed historic landscapes. These bulletins, as well as National Register nomination forms, are available at the National Park Service National Register website.

Additional agency resources

Since its inception in 1966, KHC has conducted an ongoing survey of historic sites in all 120 Kentucky counties through the Kentucky Historic Resources Survey Program. Files are catalogued in the Kentucky Historic Sites Database [LINK], which serves as a permanent written and photographic record of all known historic buildings, structures and sites in the state.The data collected and recorded through the survey provides the foundation for many agency programs including the National Register and the Kentucky Main Street Program [LINK]. The survey also provides information used for the the development of preservation plans and local architectural and cultural histories, and for comparison in evaluating National Register eligibility.

The Kentucky Historic Sites Database currently consists of 100,000+ surveyed sites and is constantly being updated and expanded as historic places are identified through the agency's extensive survey process. Survey files are maintained at the KHC office and are accessible via computer and vertical files, are cross-referenced by county and also documented on topographical maps.

For information:

Marty Perry
National Register Coordinator
(502) 564-7005, ext. 4560