The Advantages of National Register Listing

Interior of the Baker Brothers Wholesale Grocery building in Zanesville, Ohio, which was listed in the National Register in March 2023.
We have all seen markers on historic properties, indicating that this building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). What you may not know is what goes into getting those properties listed and what the advantages or seeming disadvantages might be to doing so. As a historic architecture firm, we have worked with countless clients to document and nominate their properties for the NRHP. Here is a list of some of the most common advantages, concerns and commonly asked questions we have observed in our line for work.
  • Your property is eligible for the 20% state historic tax credit and the 20% federal historic tax credit, which can make the difference in being able to fund a historic building renovation. Many owners who have a project ready to go run into a delay if their property is not actually listed, as simply being eligible or in the process of being listed in not sufficient.
  • If there is a federally funded road project in your area, adverse impacts to your historic property must be considered. This is true for any building that is eligible, but listed buildings receive special consideration.
  • Being listed does not mean you cannot do what you want to your property. If the project does not use federal funding either directly or indirectly through the state, nor does it require federal permits, then you can do whatever you want, up to and including demolition. However, local preservation ordinances are often stricter and require design review and approval before a project can proceed.
  • As a historic building, your renovation project may be eligible for more lenient building permit reviews. In many jurisdictions, a listed historic building allows alternative compliance methods to comply with the spirit of the building code, which can be more cost effective than following the letter of the building code.
  • Historic buildings are often eligible for private grant funding. If your building is listed due to national significance and not just local or regional significance, it may be eligible for additional grant funding from private organizations.
Many states even have grant programs to pay for the research and preparation work. Here in Ohio the grants are through the Ohio Department of Development in the amount of $4,000 for an individual building and $12,000 for a district, with the main restriction being that the owner of the property cannot also be the entity being paid to do the work. So go ahead and get your historic building or district listed!

Map of downtown Zanesville’s historic district showing building status, one of three maps prepared by HDC for the district nomination, which was listed in the NRHP on February 15, 2024.