National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.

National Register of Historic Places
Agency overview
Formed1966; 55 years ago (1966)
JurisdictionUnited States
Annual budget$16.8 million (2018)
Agency executive
  • Sherry A. Frear, Chief, National Register of Historic Places/National Historic Landmarks Program and Deputy Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places
Parent departmentNational Park Service
Websitewww.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister

The passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966 established the National Register and the process for adding properties to it. Of the more than one and a half million properties on the National Register, 95,000 are listed individually. The remainder are contributing resources within historic districts.

For most of its history, the National Register has been administered by the National Park Service (NPS), an agency within the United States Department of the Interior. Its goals are to help property owners and interest groups, such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as to coordinate, identify and protect historic sites in the United States. While National Register listings are mostly symbolic, their recognition of significance provides some financial incentive to owners of listed properties. Protection of the property is not guaranteed. During the nomination process, the property is evaluated in terms of the four criteria for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The application of those criteria has been the subject of criticism by academics of history and preservation, as well as the public and politicians.

Occasionally, historic sites outside the country proper, but associated with the United States (such as the American Legation in Tangier) are also listed. Properties can be nominated in a variety of forms, including individual properties, historic districts and multiple property submissions (MPS). The Register categorizes general listings into one of five types of properties: district, site, structure, building or object. National Register Historic Districts are defined geographical areas consisting of contributing and non-contributing properties. Some properties are added automatically to the National Register when they become administered by the National Park Service. These include National Historic Landmarks (NHL), National Historic Sites (NHS), National Historical Parks, National Military Parks, National Memorials and some National Monuments. (Federal properties can be proclaimed National Monuments under the Antiquities Act because of either their historical or natural significance. They are managed by multiple agencies. Only monuments that are historic in character and managed by the National Park Service are listed administratively in the National Register.)