The National Register of Historic Places formally recognizes historical, architectural or archaeological significance, but it does not necessarily protect a property from demolition.
Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register falls under the purview of the National Park Service. As its name suggests, it was created to support efforts to identify, evaluate and protect the historic and archaeological resources in the U.S.
Property owners, historical societies, preservation organizations, governmental agencies and other individual groups can nominate a property, and these nominations are reviewed by the respective state’s historic preservation office and its National Register Review Board.
A property’s eligibility depends on its age, integrity and significance. For example, a home should be at least 50 years old and look much as it originally did. The significance of a property indicates its association with people, architecture, events, activities or developments and more that were important.
The National Register listing provides homeowners with preservation incentives including opportunities to receive federal grants to rehabilitate their homes and federal investment tax credits, as well as preservation easements to nonprofit organizations. However, it does not invoke local historic district zoning or local landmark designation automatically.
Ultimately, in order to spare a historic home from demolition, a local government must put its own protections in place.