1. What is the National Register of Historic Places?
The National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, is the nation’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.
Inclusion in this distinguished list offers recognition that an individual property or a collection of properties is significant to the nation, the state, or the community. Centre County has sixteen historic districts and over forty individual properties listed in the National Register.
2. What are the benefits of listing?
- Property owners may be eligible for certain Federal tax provisions.Owners of properties listed in the National Register may be eligible for a 20 percent investment tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of income-producing certified historic structures such as commercial, industrial, or rental residential buildings. Federal tax deductions also are available for charitable contributions for conservation purposes of partial interests in historically important land areas or structures.
- Historic properties are given consideration in the planning for Federal, federally licensed, and federally assisted projects.Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires that Federal agencies allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation an opportunity to comment on all projects affecting historic properties either listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National Register. An example might be the impact on historic properties of a new or enlarged highway.
- Property owners qualify for Federal grants for historic preservation, when funds are available.Funds are not available at this time.
3. What are the restrictions of listing?
Owners of private properties listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that no Federal monies are involved.
4. How old does a property have to be to qualify?
Generally, properties eligible for listing in the National Register are at least 50 years old. Properties less than 50 years of age must be exceptionally significant to be considered eligible for listing.
5. What are the National Register criteria for evaluation?
The criteria are designed to guide State and local governments, Federal agencies, and others in evaluating potential entries in the National Register. Significance in history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture and integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship and:
a. associated with historic events or activities
b. associated with important persons
c. distinctive design or characteristics
d. potential archaeological information.
6. How is a property nominated to the National Register?
After a nomination has been prepared it is submitted for review and a recommendation to a State review board. If a favorable review is given, the nomination is made to the National Register by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO).
During the time the proposed nomination is reviewed by the SHPO, property owners and local officials are notified of the intent to nominate and are given an opportunity to comment.
7. What is the difference between a National Register Historic District and a “municipal historic district”?
Federal tax benefits and national recognition is available in a National Register Historic District, but there are no local controls on historic buildings. These come through the establishment by the local government, after review and approval by the State, of a locally administered historic district.
8. What is a Certified Rehabilitation?
In order to qualify for National Register investment tax credits, certified rehabilitation work must be done in accordance with national historic preservation standards which assume quality and longevity of the rehabilitation.
9. What are the rehabilitation standards?
The Department of Interior Standards for rehabilitation of National Register buildings are the following:
1. Endeavor to use the building for its original purpose or for a compatible use requiring minimal changes.
2. Retain and preserve original distinguishing features and qualities.
3. Recognize all buildings and structures as products of their own time, avoiding changes that have no historical basis.
4. Recognize and preserve changes that have occurred over time if they have significance in their own right.
5. Retain and preserve distinctive stylistic features or examples of skilled craftsmanship that characterize the building or site.
6. Repair rather than replace worn architecture features. If replacement is necessary, new material should match the old in all visual qualities – design, color, texture; and should be based on factual historical data.
7. Clean facades using the gentlest means possible. Avoid sandblasting. High water pressure or other damaging methods are not permitted.
8. Protect and preserve archaeological resources affected by or adjacent to a project.
9. Compatible contemporary additions or alterations are acceptable if:
- they do not destroy significant historical, architectural, or cultural materials and
- the design is compatible with size, scale, color, material, and character of the structure and neighborhood.
10. Additions or alterations should be removable without impairing the original structure.
Centre County is rich in historically significant architecture. In addition to more than forty individual properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the following communities have National Register Historic Districts:
- Bellefonte(also Municipal Historic District)
- Black Moshannon State Park
- Day Use District
- Family Cabin District
- Maintenance District
- Linden Hall
- Oak Hall
- State College
- College Heights
- Ag Hill Complex (Penn State)
- Farmers’ High School (Penn State)
For more information on the National Register of Historic Places, please contact the National Park Service.