National Register Eligibility

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Wise Preservation Planning LLC
      1480 Hilltop Road
      Chester Springs PA 19425
      Phone (484) 202-8187

Wise Preservation Planning LLC is a full-service historic preservation planning firm. We research, document, analyze and ultimately help protect historic resources and our cultural landscape. Our firm serves a variety of clients, including municipalities, engineers, architects, historical societies, and owners of historic resources.

The firm was founded in 1997 by Robert J. Wise Jr., who has 20 years of experience in the historic preservation field. He is assisted by Seth Hinshaw, Senior Planner, who has been with the firm since 2001. Both planners have M.S. degrees in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and exceed the 36 CFR 61 Professional Qualification Standards established by the National Park Service for architectural historians.

National Register Eligibility

A property must meet the following eligibility test before it may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The test establishes objective standards to help minimize the subjectivity that is sometimes involved in assessing the historic nature of a property. A property usually must meet the four parts of the test (some exceptions apply). The four parts are discussed below.


— 1. Age —

A property must be at least 50 years of age to be eligible for the National Register. If a property is less than 50 years of age, it is not likely to be considered historic. However, if an event of national significance happened on a property in the past 50 years, the age test may be waived.


— 2. Integrity —

Integrity is important to a historic building. If its appearance cannot convey its significance (usually as a result of later alterations), the building is probably not eligible for the National Register. For National Register eligibility purposes, integrity is considered to be the composite of seven aspects or qualities. A particular building needs to have most but not necessarily all seven aspects. For more information, see National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, pp. 44-49. The seven qualities of integrity are:

Location. This means that the building has not been moved to a different location.

Design. The building must retain the defining features of its original form, plan, space, structure, and style.

Setting. The heritage zone surrounding the building should be intact enough to convey a sense of the historic setting of the resource. This would not be the case if the setting has been re-graded for some reason.

Materials. The building must retain enough of its original materials to convey a sense of its historic appearance.

Workmanship. A substantial amount of the original features of the building should remain to demonstrate its workmanship or craftsmanship.

Feeling. The sense of place created by the above qualities must exist to convey a sense of its historic quality in its period of significance.

Association. The building must retain architectural integrity to demonstrate its appearance during its period of significance.


— 3. Significance —

The National Register has established four Criteria for significance. For a property to be eligible, it must meet one or more of these Criteria. They are:

Criterion A: Association with an important event or trend. Events include such things as battles, sites where something was invented, or sites of important speeches. Trends are more generic and include such things as education, community development, industry, or medicine. The importance of a property in a particular trend must be demonstrated, though - not every mill is significant for "industry."

Criterion B: Association with an important person. A property may meet Criterion B if its association with a person of importance is demonstrated. The historic figure must be important, and the importance must be documented. Furthermore, the propery must be the location where the person became important. A tenant farm owned by James Buchanan cannot be eligible for its association with him because agriculture did not create his importance.

Criterion C: Significance for Design or Construction. Most properties listed on the National Register are listed for their significant architecture. While there are several ways in which a building may meet Criterion C, the two most common are described in Bulletin 15 (mentioned above) as the property's ability to "embody distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction" or its ability to "represent the work of a master."

Criterion D: Ability to convey information of significance. Criterion D is usually reserved for archaeological resources, though a limited number of above-ground resources may meet this Criterion.


— 4. Criteria Considerations —

The Criteria Considerations define seven types of properties that are usually not eligible for the National Register. The National Park Service has established guidelines that may be used to list these types of historic resources. The seven Criteria Considerations are:

Religious Properties. Houses of worship must be significant for more than their use and their age. They may be important for their design, their impact on the history of religious architecture, or as the site of an event of significance.

Relocated Resources. Usually, a historic resource that has been moved is not eligible for the National Register. Five exceptions have been outlined, but they apply to very few historic buildings.

Birthplaces or Graves. Locations of births or burials are not usually eligible for the National Register because the things that made a particular person important are not demonstrated at these location. The location must have some other importance unless it is the only remaining location associated with a person of importance.

Cemeteries. Cemeteries or burial grounds are not usually eligible, but they may qualify on the basis of their design or aesthetic qualities.

Reconstructed Properties. A building that was built to provide a sense of an earlier building that did not survive is not eligible for the National Register. The listed exceptions to this rule are stringent; for the most part, a reconstructed building may be listed for its own significance only.

Commemorative Properties. A historic resource that was built to commemorate a historic event or person is usually not eligible for the National Register. However, the commemorative resource may be significant for its own design, age, or some other cultural value.

Recent Properties. Properties that are less than 50 years of age are not usually eligible for the National Register. A limited number of exceptions exist, such as properties of exceptional importance.