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National Register – How to List Your Property


A building in Springville, Utah

First, be aware of the requirements.

To be eligible for the National Register, a building must:

  • Be at least 50 years old.
  • Retain its architectural integrity.  (A rule of thumb: Would the original owner still recognize the building?)  Feel free to send photos to our staff for some preliminary advice on this question–see contact info at the bottom of the page.
  • Be “significant.” This significance can be national, state-wide, or even local, but must fall within at least one of the following categories:
      1. association with important events,
      2. association with significant persons,
      3. architectural significance, or
      4. archaeological significance.

If it is just a nice old building that hasn’t been altered but isn’t anything unique architecturally, it won’t qualify for architectural significance.  Likewise, if the historic owners were just typical citizens or if the building has no unique historical association, then it will be difficult to nominate in those categories.

Who can nominate a building

Any interested person can research and nominate any property to the National Register. However, the legal owner has the right to object to, and prevent, the listing of their private property.

How to prepare a nomination

Be aware that nominating a property is quite an involved process that requires research and writing skills and architectural and historical knowledge.  Because of the time involved and the scrutiny of the reviewers, we typically recommend that interested building owners hire a preservation research consultant to do the work for them. Contact us for information on local consultants who do National Register nominations.

If you are experienced in research and writing and have an understanding of architectural terminology, you may want to do the nomination yourself.  Here are the steps:

  • First, research and document the property.  See our  Guide to Preparing National Register Nominations(pdf). You may also view our page on How to Research Your House and our Intensive Level Survey Guide for tips on researching. Note that:
    • A full title search must be done.
    • In-depth research must be completed for all historic owners, from which the significance can be determined.
  • Submit current photos of the property with your early research results to us for a preliminary review. Our staff is available to review your research and nomination at any time—consult with them early!
  • Coordinate with the local historic preservation commission, if one is present in your area.  To find out, check our Certified Local Government (CLG) database; each CLG has a historic preservation commission.
  • Prepare the National Register nomination form using the results of your research and the review suggestions (again, consult with our staff before proceeding with research and documentation). The nomination form is in a couple of parts:  an architectural description and the narrative statement of significance.
    • The architectural description describes in detail each of the exterior elevations, the interior rooms, the site, and any outbuildings on the property.
    • The narrative statement of significance goes into the building’s history focusing on those elements that make it significant. It is basically written like a research paper with source notes and a bibliography.
    • Include photos of the building, either digital TIFF images in color, or Black & White prints on archival paper with accompanying negataives. See the official photo requirements here.
    • Include a USGS map showing its location (marked in pencil), and floor plans and site plans if there are outbuildings.
    • Include copies of all the research materials.

What happens next

The nomination goes through two reviews.

1. The Board of State History meets four times a year to review nominations.

  • We will present the completed nomination to the Board for review.
  • You may attend the meeting, but attendance is not required.

2. If the Board approves the nomination, we submit it to the National Park Service in Washington.

  • NPS review takes approximately 60 days.
  • If the NPS questions the significance they may send the nomination back to us for additional information or clarification. But we like to make certain that the building has significance before it ever reaches this part of the process.
  • The NPS makes the final determination on the listing.

The review process—from the time nomination is submitted to our office until we are notified of its listing or rejection by the NPS—is usually about 6 months, so it takes some time.

Utah has a rich variety of properties on the National Register of Historic Places –

from mansions to prehistoric pithouses, lime kilns to LDS tithing offices, suspension bridges to rock art sites. Utah has more than 1,000 individual sites and more than 50 historic and archeological districts containing several thousand additional sites. Perhaps your property will also become one of these specially designated places!


For more details, see our NRGuide2013 (PDF)

See also the Park Service publications How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation and How to Complete the National Register Registration Form.

For multiple property nominations based on historic contexts, see our Guidelines for Multiple Property Submissions.


For more information, contact Cory Jensen at 801-245-7242.