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Property type (National Register of Historic Places): Wikis


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Clockwise from bottom left: a site, a building, a structure and an object. All examples of National Register of Historic Places property types.

The U.S. National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) classifies its listings by various types of properties. Listed properties generally fall into one of five categories, though there are special considerations for other types of properties which do not fit into these five broad categories or fit into more specialized subcategories. The five general categories for NRHP properties are: building, structure, object, site, and district.


General categories

Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater is an example of a building.

Listed properties generally fall into one of five categories, though there are special considerations for other types of properties which do not fit into these five broad categories or fit into more specialized subcategories. The five general categories for NRHP properties are: building, structure, object, site, and district.[1] I When multiple like properties are submitted as a group and listed together, they are know as a Multiple Property Submission.



Buildings, as defined by the National Register, structures intended to shelter some sort of human activity. Examples include a house, barn, hotel, church or similar construction. The term building, as in outbuilding, can be used to refer to historically and functionally related units, such as a courthouse and a jail or a barn and a house.[1][1]

Buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places must have all of their basic structural elements as parts of buildings, such as ells, wings, interiors or facades are not independently eligible for the National Register. As such, the whole building is considered during the nomination and its significant features must be identified. If a nominated building has lost any of its basic structural elements it is considered a ruin and categorized as a site.[1]

Historic districts

Historic districts often encompass numerous buildings, such as these in the Oregon Commercial Historic District, in Illinois.

The National Register of Historic Places defines a historic district per U.S. federal law, last revised in 2004.[2] According to the Register definition a historic district is: "a geographically definable area, urban or rural, possessing a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development. n addition, historic districts consist of contributing and non-contributing properties. Historic districts possess a concentration, linkage or continuity of the other four types of properties. Objects, structures, buildings and sites within a historic district are usually thematically linked by architectural style or designer, date of development, distinctive urban plan, and/or historic associations."[2]

A contributing property is any building, structure, object or site within the boundaries of the district which reflects the significance of the district as a whole, either because of historic associations, historic architectural qualities or archaeological features. Another key aspect of the contributing property is historic integrity. Significant alterations to a property can damage its physical connections with the past, lowering its historic integrity.[3]


The Rhode Island Red Monument in Rhode Island is an example of an object

Objects are usually artistic in nature, or small in scale when compared to structures and buildings. Though objects may be movable they are generally associated with a specific setting or environment. Examples of objects include, monuments, sculptures and fountains.[1]

Objects considered for inclusion on the NRHP, individually or as part of districts, should be designed for a specific location, that is objects such as transportable sculpture, furniture and other decorative arts that lack a specific place are discouraged. Fixed outdoor sculpture, an example of public art, would be a good object for inclusion on the Register. The setting of an object is important in relation to the Register. It should be appropriate to their significant historical use, roles, or character. In addition, objects that have been relocated to a museum are not considered for inclusion on the Register.[1]


The ruins of this barn in Kentucky Camp Historic District, Arizona, qualify as a site.

Sites may include discrete areas significant solely for activities in that location in the past, such as battlefields, significant archeological finds, designed landscapes (parks and gardens), and other locations whose significance does not hinge on a building or structure.

Sites often possess significance for their potential to yield information in the future, though they are added to the Register under all four of the criteria for inclusion. Sites need not have actual physical remains if it marks the location of a prehistoric or historic event or if there were no buildings or structures present at the time of the events marked by the site. Site determination can take careful evaluation when the location of prehistoric or historic events cannot be conclusively determined.


Brush Creek Bridge in Kansas is an example of a structure.

Structures differ from buildings, in that they are functional constructions meant to be used for purposes other than sheltering human activity. Examples include, an aircraft, a ship, a grain elevator, a gazebo and a bridge.

For nominated structures the criteria are applied in much the same fashion as they are for buildings. The basic structural elements must all be intact, no individual parts of the structure are eligible for separate inclusion on the NRHP. An example would be a truss bridge being considered for inclusion. Said truss bridge is composed of metal or wooden truss, abutments and supporting piers; for the property to be considered eligible for the Register all of these elements must extant. Structures which have lost their historic configuration or pattern of organization through demolition or deterioration, much like buildings, are considered ruins and classified as sites.[1]

Other categories

There are several other types of properties that do not fall neatly into the categories listed above. The National Park Service publishes a series of bulletins designed to aid in evaluating properties for NRHP eligibility using the criteria for evaluation.[1] Though the criteria for eligibility are always the same, the way they are applied can differ slightly, depending upon the type of property involved. Special Register bulletins cover application of the criteria for evaluation of: aids to navigation, historic battlefields, archaeological sites, aviation properties, cemeteries and burial places, historic designed landscapes, mining sites, post offices, properties associated with significant persons, properties achieving significance within the last 50 years, rural historic landscapes, traditional cultural properties, and vessels and shipwrecks.[1]

Archaeological sites

Archaeological properties are subject to the same four criteria as other properties under consideration for the NRHP. Archaeological sites also must meet at least one of the criteria. Many listed properties which joined the Register under the first, second and fourth criteria contain intact archaeological deposits. Often, these deposits are undocumented, for example a 19th century farmstead is likely to contain intact, undocumented archaeological deposits.[4]

Cultural landscapes

Maritime sites

The SS Jeremiah O'Brien is an example of a maritime property in San Francisco.

By the tenth year of the National Register's existence, 1976, there were 46 shipwrecks and vessels listed on the NRHP.[5] In 1985 Congress mandated that the National Park Service undertake a survey of historic maritime sites, including military sites, in tandem with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the maritime preservation community. The program was known as the National Maritime Initiative.[6] The goal of the program was to establish priorities for the preservation of maritime resources and recommend roles for the federal government and the private sector in addressing those priorities. The program categorized the known maritime resources of the United States into one of eight categories. They included: preserved historic vessels, shipwrecks and hulks (those ships not afloat but not submerged entirely), documentation (logs, journals, charts, photos, etc.), aids to navigation (including coast guard stations and life-saving stations), marine sites and structures (wharves, warehouse, waterfronts, docks, canals, etc.), small craft (less than 40 feet long, less than 20 tons displacement), artifact collections (fine art, tools, woodwork, parts of vessels, etc.), intangible cultural resources (shipwright and rigging skills, oral traditions, folklore, etc.).[7]

Traditional cultural properties

Spirit Mountain in Nevada is an example of a traditional cultural property.

1992 amendments to the NHPA allowed for a new designation of property type, that of the traditional cultural property (TCP). The amendments established that properties affiliated with traditional religious and cultural importance to a distinct cultural group, such as a Native American tribe or Native Hawaiian group were eligible for the National Register. TCPs include built or natural locations, areas, or features considered sacred or culturally significant by a group or people. While TCPs are closely associated with Native American Cultures, a site need not be associated with a Native American cultural group to qualify as a TCP for the purposes of the NRHP. [8][9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation," (PDF), National Register Bulletins, National Park Service. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  2. ^ a b Title 36: Section 60.3, Parks Forests and Public Property, Chapter One, Part 60. National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  3. ^ National Register Historic Districts Q&A, South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  4. ^ Little, Barbara, Seibert, Erika Martin, et al. "Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Archaeological Properties," (Section IV - Evaluating the Significance of Archaeological Properties), National Register Bulletin, National Register Publication, National Park Service, 2000. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  5. ^ Delgado, James P. "The National Register of Historic Places and Maritime Preservation," APT Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 1, Maritime Preservation. (1987), pp. 34-39. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  6. ^ Delgado, James P. "The National Maritime Initiative: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Maritime Preservation (in Preservation Technology)," The Public Historian, Vol. 13, No. 3, Preservation Technology. (Summer, 1991), pp. 75-84. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  7. ^ Wall, Glennie Murray. "The National Maritime Initiative (in Opinion)," (JSTOR), APT Bulletin, Vol. 19, No. 1, Maritime Preservation. (1987), pp. 2-3+18. Retrieved 22 March 2007.
  8. ^ A German critique about the concept of 'Traditional Cultural Properties', see: Michael Falser: Denkmalpflege und nationale Identität in den USA: Vom exklusiven Kulturerbe zum Konzept des ‚Traditional Cultural Property’. In: Köth, A., Krauskopf, K., Schwarting, A.(Eds.) Building America. Vol 2 (Migration der Bilder). Dresden 2007, pp. 299-324.
  9. ^ Ferguson, T. J. "Native Americans and the Practice of Archaeology," (JSTOR), Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 25. (1996), pp. 63-79. Retrieved 23 March 2007.


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