The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's list of historic properties worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archaeological properties. Properties of local, state, or national significance are eligible.
A property must meet criteria for evaluation. A property must have historic significance, be old enough to be considered historically (in general, be at least 50 years old), and still look much the way it did during its period of significance (physical integrity). A property's significant can be for its association with important events, activities, or development; for association with the lives of people important in the past; for significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements; or its potential to yield information about our past through archaeological investigation. For religious properties, moved properties, birthplaces and graves, cemeteries, reconstructions, commemorative properties, and those less than 50 years old there are criteria considerations that need to be addressed in the documentation.
The process starts with the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology, also known as the State Historic Preservation Office. The office has the nomination forms available, an outline detailing the process, owner information, and provides technical assistance in preparation of a nomination. Nominations are reviewed by the Alaska Historical Commission. Upon favorable review, the nomination is sent to the Keeper of the National Register for final review.
Owners are not prohibited from changing a building listed in the National Register. The best preservation is to have a building used and on tax rolls. Owners have no obligations to open the property to the public or to restore it, unless they have agreed to do so as a condition to getting historic preservation funds. Listing does not lead to public acquisition. Technical assistance when planning changes to a listed property is available from the Office of History and Archaeology.
Owners are advised, if they do not initiate the nomination, when a property is being considered for listing in the National Register. Individually owned properties are not listed if the owner objects. Historic districts are not listed if a majority of owners object.
Listing in the National Register is formal recognition of a property's historic, architectural, or archaeological significance based on national standards. The documentation becomes part of a national archive, a public, searchable database, that is a wealth of research information. A good history of a property helps communities with visitor information and schools for curriculum.
Becoming part of the National Register makes properties eligible for several federal and state grant programs (when funds are available) for planning and rehabilitation, federal investment tax credits, preservation easements, and International Building Code fire and life safety code alternatives.
When a federally funded or permitted activity is proposed that might negatively impact a listed property, there is a process to try and prevent negative impacts to significant properties. The owner is included in any process if a listed property is to be adversely impacted by a public project.