Modernism and Recent Past Survey & Designation Efforts

As interest in resources from the recent past and the Modern design movement grows, so do efforts to document this important part of our national heritage. Many communities and organizations across the country are surveying their mid-century properties, sites, and landscapes to determine their eligibility for local landmark designation or listing on the National Register of Historic Places. They have accomplished these surveys using local volunteer assistance, preservation students, professional consulting services, or some combination of the three. The historic resource survey efforts below encompass a variety of methods, geographic areas, and resource types, illustrating both the pervasiveness of these resources in our communities and the diverse ways to capture this important information. Additional information and models for survey and designation of various housing types can be found in our Guide to Post War Housing Survey and Designation Resources.


Recent Past Preservation Network:National non-profit education and advocacy group that prepared a list of recent past survey, designation and organizational resources arranged by state.

  • Phoenix, AZ: The Historic Preservation Commission has completed a number of neighborhood surveys, including a windshield survey of the Pierson Place neighborhood (1910-1956). In 2002 the HPC conducted an initial study of post WWII commercial resources (1945-75) throughout the city with funding from the SHPO.
  • Scottsdale, AZ: The Historic Preservation Commission completed a survey of all 37 of Scottsdale's post-war residential neighborhoods. Their website provides many useful tools including descriptions of the survey and designation processes, color coded maps and a guide to architectural styles.
  • Tucson, AZ: In 2007 the City of Tucson, in collaboration with the Preservation Studies Program of the University of Arizona and a private consultant, completed a study of their post-World War II residential subdivisions to gain an understanding of their extent, nature and variations, and to determine eligibility for National Register designation. The study includes a description of the methodology and a guide to architectural styles and types.
  • Los Angeles, CA: The City of Los Angeles embarked on its first comprehensive historic resource survey effort in 2006. This survey will cover the entire city and identify resources dating from approximately 1865 to 1980. Resources associated with Modernism and the recent past are a key focus of the survey. Read More
  • Boulder, CO: In 2010, the City of Boulder completed its first in-depth study of post-war tract housing in Boulder constructed between 1947 and 1967, focusing on ten subdivisions around Boulder.
  • Denver, CO: The Harvey Park South Hutchinson Homes produced a simplified survey methodology and form for the initial survey of large subdivisions or neighborhoods of post-war residences.
  • Fort Collins, CO: Sample nomination of a local landmarks district for a small area of homes (11 lots) constructed between 1951 and 1954.
  • New Canaan, CT: The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation completerd a professional survey of nearly 100 New Canaan Modern homes, structures and landscapes between 1935 and 1975 for a National Register thematic nomination. An RFP is available as a model for communities interested in hiring a professional consultant for survey.
  • Chicago, IL: The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Landmarks Illinois, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Midwest Office partnered in the Fall of 2006 and again in 2007 to document architecturally significant non-residential buildings dating from 1935 to 1975 in Chicago's north and northwest suburbs. The survey identified more than 700 commercial, institutional, office, and religious structures in 16 communities throughout northeast Cook County, Illinois. The survey web page includes survey reports, maps, photographs, and a bibliography.
  • Landmarks Illinois has completed two years of survey with the School of the Art Institute, documenting commercial structures in Chicago's North and Northwest suburbs. Includes a searchable database, photos, maps and presentations of their findings. 

National Register Bulletins

The following publications from the National Park Service will be extremely helpful to any organization or community interested in surveying their post-war residential properties.

  • Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties That Have Achieved Significance Within the Past Fifty Years
  • Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning
  • Historic Residential Suburbs: Guidelines for Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places
  • How to Apply National Register Criteria for Evaluation

National Register Listings

Several district, multiple property, and individual nominations that include post-war residential resources have been completed recently, which can help guide local efforts for survey and designation. Some examples of nominations that are available on-line are listed below. Hard copies of any National Register nomination can be obtained for your reference by contacting the appropriate State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in the state where the property is located, although some nominations may be available on-line through the SHPO or from other organizations in that state.  

Districts/Multiple Property

  • Arapahoe Acres (1949-1957) - Englewood, Arapahoe County, CO.  First post-war historic residential district listed that met Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years.  
  • Chatham Village (c. 1929-1956) - Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA.  Contact Pennsylvania SHPO.
  • Glenview (1908-1968) - Memphis, Shelby County, TN.  Residential Resources of Memphis, MPS.  Contact Tennessee SHPO.
  • Pacesetter Gardens Historic District (1960) - A collection of ninety-two mid-century townhomes that met Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years.  Illinois SHPO database has a summary report and background documentation.
  • Parkfairfax (1941-1943) - Alexandria, VA.  Contact Virginia SHPO.
  • Park Hill (1922-1950) - North Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR.  Contact Arkansas SHPO.
  • Raymond M. Hilliard Center Historic District (1966) - Chicago, IL.  Multiple-unit cast concrete public housing project that met Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years.  Illinois SHPO database has a summary report and background documentation.
  • The Town House Condominiums (1958-1961) - Springfield, IL. 
  • Multiple Family Dwellings (1896-1958) - Springfield, Illinois, MPS.  Multiple family high-rise that met Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years.  Illinois SHPO database has a summary report and background documentation.

Individual Residences

  • Ralph Wilson, Sr. House (1959) - Temple, TX.  First individual residence listed that met Criteria Consideration G for properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years.  Contact Texas SHPO.
  • Ray and Charlotte Woods House (1951) - Katy, TX.  Contact Texas SHPO.


Below are just a few of the outstanding organizations and municipalities that have completed surveys of post-war residential properties and/or are engaged in education and advocacy for these resources on their communities.

  • Arapahoe Acres Preservation Network - Originally developed as part of a community project in partnership with the State Historical Fund and Historic Denver, this website provides information on the history of the subdivision, the architects, landscape, architectural styles, guidelines for maintenance, a newsletter and events information for current residents of Arapahoe Acres.  
  • City of Scottsdale, AZ - The Scottsdale Historic Preservation Commission has completed numerous surveys of their post-war residential neighborhoods. Their website contains many useful tools including information on preservation incentives, a bibliography, color coded maps, a guide to architectural styles and development themes and studies. 
  • Colorado Historical Society - Collection of documents complied by the State Historic Preservation Office on the survey and designation process, local tours and National Register and local landmark designations for Post World War II resources as part of a 2007 workshop for Certified Local Governments.
  • Eichler Network - Detailed website that provides history, archives, articles, home improvement and maintenance guides, contractors and suppliers and much more for owners of homes within Joseph Eichler's planned subdivisions in California.
  • The Glass House Phillip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut maintains a list of resources and groups dedicated to the preservation of modern structures.
  • Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee - The original "ModCom" formed nearly a decade ago to provide education, tour, events and advocacy for the preservation of commercial and residential post-war resources in the Los Angles area. 
  • Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network - A growing neighborhood group with a vast collection of photographs, articles on Phoenix architects and architecture, maps, tours and a lively message board.
  • Palm Springs Modern Committee - Information on architects, advocacy, public education and events promoting the preservation of modern architecture and historic neighborhoods in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
  • Palm Springs Preservation Foundation - Non-profit organization devoted to the protection of the modern heritage of Palm Springs through survey and designation of landmarks, aggressive public education, events, outreach to engage the public in the planning process and advocacy to save threatened properties. 
  • reDiscover Nob Hill - Website devoted to the history of the area and public outreach activities.