What Other Resources and Information Do You Have on Historic Districts?


National Alliance of Preservation Commissions

The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions is the only organization devoted solely to representing the nation's preservation design review commissions. The NAPC provides technical support and manages an information network to help local commissions accomplish their preservation objectives. The Alliance also serves as an advocate at federal, state and local levels of government to promote policies and programs that support preservation commission efforts.

National Alliance of Preservation Commissions
325 South Lumpkin Street
Athens, Georgia 30602
Phone: (706) 542-4731

State Historic Preservation Office

Your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), a state government office, is an invaluable source of information and should be contacted early in the planning process.  The name and address of every SHPO is available on National Trust's website.  The SHPO has information on any applicable state and federal funding programs or tax incentives credits for income-producing buildings, general information on the preservation of historic buildings, and nomination forms and guidelines for the National Register of Historic Places.

Statewide and Local Preservation Organizations

Private statewide and local preservation groups serve as the network centers and representatives of preservation activities within their states.  They work with SHPOs, assist local groups, intervene in preservation issues, advocate state membership and educational programs, issue publications, engage in real estate and revolving fund programs, and serve as a preservation clearinghouse.  For the name, address, and phone number of your state's statewide preservation organization, visit the National Trust's website or contact the National Trust's Information Center.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Information Center
1785 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washingon, District of Columbia 20036
Phone: (202) 588-6000, 1-800-944-6847
Fax: (202) 588-6038

National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of historically significant structures.  The National Register was authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and is administered by the Department of the Interior's National Park Service.  Some of the types of properties nominated for inclusion in the National Register are historic areas in the National Park Service, National Historic Landmarks, historically significant properties nominated by federal, state, and local governments, organizations, or individuals.  A National Register designation mandates that a property must be considered in the planning of federal or federally assisted projects impacting the registered property, and qualifies it for financial assistance from governmental funds for historic preservation when these funds are available. 

The National Register's website is a good place to find information, as it offers general information about the program, specific information about registered properties, guidelines for nominating properties, and publications about the National Register.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

The philosophical principles in The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings have proven to be important in successful administration of historic districts. They are sometimes included in a preservation ordinance as part of the design review criteria, and other times are referenced in the ordinance as a required basis for developing local design guidelines.  A few districts use the Standards for Rehabilitation by themselves as a general guideline without anything specific attached.  Ultimately, The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties is an excellent resource for all work done on old buildings.  These guidelines are used to determine whether the historic character of a building is preserved in the process of rehabilitation.  The guidelines recommend responsible methods and approaches and list treatments that should be avoided.  A copy can be obtained from your State Historic Preservation Officer, on-line, or from the Government Printing Office.  For more information, call the National Park Service's Heritage Preservation Services office

Paint Colors

Some local preservation ordinances restrict paint colors; some do not.  Roger Moss has written several books on historic paint colors, including a Preservation Press publication, Paint in America: The Colors of Historic Buildings.   While Paint in America is now out of print, you should be able to locate it at your library, in a used bookstore, or through an online bookseller; local bookstores will have his more recent publications. The National Park Service's "Preservation Briefs" will also be helpful.  Two briefs which will be particularly useful are: No. 10 - Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork and No. 28 - Painting Historic Interiors.

Plaques for Historic Buildings

Owners of local, state, or nationally registered buildings often mount a plaque on their property.  A number of private companies manufacture suitable plaques. To avoid costly shipping charges, you may want to work with a foundry or engraving firm in your local area.  Historic plaque companies advertise in Preservation, so be sure to look in the classified section for companies in your area.  Consult with your State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and any local historical commission to find out if they have plaque programs. Your SHPO will also be able to tell you if your state has a special funding program to help with the cost of a plaque.  Finally, and most importantly, be extremely careful when affixing the plaque to the historic building to avoid harming the building material. [See also the National Trust's "Plaques" information sheet #7.]


A preservation easement is a legal right granted by the owner of a property to an organization or a governmental entity qualified under state law to accept such an easement.   It protects against undesirable development or indirect deterioration.  Preservation easements may provide the most effective legal tool for the protection of privately-owned historic properties.  The terms are generally incorporated into a recordable preservation easement deed and can prohibit, for example, alteration of the structure's significant features, changes in the usage of the building and land, or subdivision and topographic changes to the property.  The property continues on the tax rolls at its current use designation rather than its "highest and best use" (its value if developed) thereby giving the owner a genuine tax advantage.  For information on easement holders in your area, contact your SHPO or statewide or local preservation organization.

The American Planning Association

The American Planning Association (APA) endorses local survey and designation programs related to historic preservation through a sweeping policy that encourages government support and integration of preservation into local planning processes.  Please visit the APA website to find case studies and other information on several planning/land use issues that may be of help to you.  

Heritage Preservation Services

Heritage Preservation Services (a division of the National Park Service) provides services, advice, and publications on historic preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation technology. Their publications include Preservation Briefs covering such topics as masonry, mortar, conserving energy in historic buildings, cleaning and caring for historic buildings, and aluminum and vinyl siding.  All briefs are available online.  For more information about their publications, call (202) 513-7270.  Their website includes information on researching a historic building, applying the Secretary of the Interiors' Standards for Rehabilitation, technical information, and other resources for restoration projects.  HPS has also created an online tutorial on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation called Electronic Rehab.  The program is designed for historic building owners, new members of design review and historic preservation commissions, architects, contractors, developers, maintenance personnel, and students.  The website also has a test where you make critical decisions about the appropriateness of rehabilitation work on two buildings and get immediate feedback.