Listing Property in the National Register of Historic Places in Michigan: The Process & Requirements

Thank you for your interest in listing property in the National Register of Historic Places.  The process of listing property in the National Register includes the following steps:

  • A preliminary evaluation of the property’s eligibility for the National Register by SHPO staff.
  • Preparation of National Register nomination materials by the applicant, or a consultant hired by the applicant.
  • Approval of the nomination materials by SHPO staff.
  • Presentation of the property to the State Historic Preservation Review Board for its approval.
  • Submission of the nomination materials to the National Register by the SHPO.
  • Listing of the property in the National Register of Historic Places.

PRELIMINARY EVALUATION OF THE PROPERTY’S ELIGIBILITY FOR THE NATIONAL REGISTER BY SHPO STAFF

Unless we already have sufficient historical information on the property in hand because of previous inquiries or other historic designations, we will request that you complete a National Register of Historic Places Preliminary Questionnaire for the property.  The preliminary questionnaire is available on the National Register page on the SHPO’s website, www.michigan.gov/nrhp.  A paper copy of the questionnaire will be mailed to you upon request.

Once you complete the questionnaire mail it to us along with clear photographs (digital or printed) of the property, a sketch map showing its location, a sketch site plan (if the property contains a number of historic buildings or other features), and supporting historical documentation.  We will usually be able to review the questionnaire within a few weeks or less, and will contact you with the results of our evaluation.  In some cases we may need to request additional information before completing an evaluation. 

If we evaluate the property as appearing to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register, we will encourage you to proceed with preparing the full National Register of Historic Places Registration Form and accompanying documentation needed to obtain listing for the property.

PREPARATION OF NATIONAL REGISTER NOMINATION MATERIALS

Listing a property in the National Register requires the preparation of an application, or nomination, that includes a National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (NPS Form 10-900), photographs, mapping, and other documentation. 

Go to the National Register’s official website, www.nps.gov/history/nr, for the following basic tools:

  • The National Register of Historic Places Registration Form in a Word template;
  • The instruction manual for preparing nomination materials, National Register Bulletin 16A, How to Complete the National Register Registration Form; and
  • The National Register’s photographic requirements, the Photograph Policy Factsheet Update, and also How to Improve the Quality of Photographs for National Register Nominations.

The SHPO will also often be able to provide a copy of a sample completed nomination form for a property something like yours as a guide to the appropriate level of information needed and the format.

In addition, the SHPO maintains a list of consultants who do National Register nomination work for hire at your request.  Contracting this work out can often expedite the process of listing property in the National Register.  The Historian/Architectural Historian Consultant List can be found on the National Register page of the SHPO’s website, www.michigan.gov/nrhp.

Who Prepares the National Register Nomination Materials?

Not the SHPO.  Because of the work load, the SHPO staff prepares few nominations in-house.  It will be the applicant’s responsibility to provide the SHPO with a nomination form and the accompanying documentation that meet all National Register and SHPO standards and requirements.  The SHPO will not proceed with the process of nominating a property to the National Register until the application is complete and in final form.  See the list of required items to complete the National Register nomination package under Before We Place Your Property on the Agenda for a State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting below.

Submitting a First Draft of the Nomination

At this initial stage, please provide a completed 10-900 Registration Form and the following (if not previously submitted):

  • A set of digital photographs that depict the property’s current condition.We cannot review the description statement without adequate photographs. Provide views that together illustrate:
    • all primary facades
    • important exterior details
    • the grounds and environment, and
    • all interior spaces and significant interior details
  • Copies of source materials used in documenting the property’s history and preparing the significance statement.We will need to be able to verify the information presented in the significance statement before proceeding to nominate the property.
  • A map showing the property’s precise location.
  • A site plan or map of the property, if it contains multiple buildings and features (such as a farm or farmstead, industrial or institutional complex, park, cemetery, or estate, for example).

We will review your nomination materials as soon as time permits and get back to you with our comments.  Nomination materials are normally reviewed within four-six weeks of receipt, but applicants should be aware that other duties sometimes prevent this timely a response to submitted nomination materials.  Following receipt of comments on the first draft, prepare the final nomination materials.

Site Visit

Unless SHPO staff is familiar with the property, a site visit to inspect the property will generally be required before the nomination materials are accepted as final. 

APPROVAL OF THE NOMINATION MATERIALS BY SHPO STAFF

Following SHPO staff approval and before being submitted to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, National Register nomination materials are reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Review Board at review board meetings currently held three times per year.  Nominations will not be scheduled for consideration by the review board until all materials are complete and in final form.  “Complete and in final form” means that the final version of the registration form incorporates all revisions noted by SHPO staff, and all other required items have been received and accepted by us. 

Before We Place Your Property on the Agenda for a State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting

We require the following, complete and in final form:

  • The completed National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (NPS form 10-900) for the property or district, as approved by the National Register coordinator.
    • Note: the entire nomination form must be submitted in.doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) format.
  • Any site plans or maps.These must meet the SHPO’s mapping standards.
  • One set of the nomination photographs in JPEG format that meet the "best" specifications, and labeled as per National Register requirements stated in the Photograph Policy Factsheet.
  • One set of the nomination photographs in TIFF format that meet the "best" specifications, and labeled as per National Register requirements stated in the Photograph Policy Factsheet.
  • One presentation to be presented to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board.  The presentation must be in .ppt or .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint) format, and be free of formatting, designs, and text. PowerPoint slides should include one image per slide.Images should fill the slide to the extent possible. We recommend compiling your presentation using JPEG format images.
  • A large scale (close-up view) map that depicts the entire nominated property within the full extent of the map.  The SHPO will calculate the latitude and longitude coordinates upon request.
  • A small scale map that depicts the nominated property in a wider context (similar to the scale of the USGS topographical map).The SHPO will determine the latitude and longitude coordinates upon request.
  • A copy of all source materials used in preparing the nomination.
  • A list of individuals to be notified of the nomination, including the property owner(s), the chief elected official of the municipality in which the site is located, state representative, state senator, and other interested parties, as applicable.
  • For district nominations: in addition to the parties noted above, a complete nomination package will include a mailing list of owners for all properties included in the nomination, whether they contain buildings or not.  For each property the list must provide both the property address and the owner’s mailing address.  For churches, institutional properties, and properties owned by governmental bodies, a name and title for the appropriate person to be notified must be provided.  For districts containing twenty or more properties, the mailing list must be provided in .xls or .xlsx (Microsoft Excel) format.

A note on file types and applications

The State of Michigan utilizes the Microsoft Office suite of applications.  Submitting files to the SHPO in the specified formats will preclude any unforeseen issues with converting files from other file types.  Applicants and consultants are free to use any application to produce the required documents, but the final submitted products must be in the types specified above.  Please contact the SHPO with any questions you have or problems you encounter.

SUBMISSION OF MATERIALS TO THE STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE

You may submit the required materials to the SHPO by including it on a CD or DVD, a “flash” drive (also called a USB or thumb drive), or via a file transfer website such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s One Drive. 

State of Michigan enterprise security rules restrict access to some file-sharing sites, including Google Drive.  Likewise, notification emails generated from applications such as Dropbox do not always arrive.  Please check with your SHPO staff contact to ensure receipt of materials.

Please note that all photographs, materials, and media (CDs, USB drives, etc) submitted to the SHPO become the property of the SHPO and will not be returned.  Additionally, photographs may be used in promotional materials unless copyrighted.

PRESENTATION TO THE STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION REVIEW BOARD

The process of nominating property to the National Register includes presentation of the property to the State Historic Preservation Review Board, currently held three times per year, usually in mid-January, early May, and mid-September.  The property is presented to the board through a short presentation using electronic images in a PowerPoint presentation.  Applicants or the applicant’s consultant, if retained, will be required to present the nomination.  Property owners and other affected parties are notified and given an opportunity to attend the meeting and make brief comments to the board.

Thirty to ninety days prior to the review board meeting date, the SHPO provides written notification to the property owner(s), chief elected official of the local governmental unit in which the property is located, and other interested parties of the nomination as well as the date, time, and place of the review board meeting.  The federal regulations governing the National Register program allow the SHPO to publish a notice in a local newspaper that serves the area in lieu of sending individual letters to owners in the case of districts with more than fifty property owners.  The SHPO will generally opt to send the individual letters even for districts of more than fifty properties due to the excessive cost of publishing notices.

SUBMISSION OF THE NOMINATION MATERIALS TO AND LISTING IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

Once the nomination materials have been approved by the review board and State Historic Preservation Officer, they are forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.  Listing in the National Register normally takes place about forty-five days following their receipt of the nomination materials.  We are informed of new National Register listings weekly by email, and will notify the applicant and the parties noted above by letter as soon thereafter as possible.

DEADLINES

Deadline for Submission of Draft Nomination Materials (except for Certified Local Governments – see below)

The first version of the nomination materials should be submitted to us at least ten weeks prior to the meeting of the State Historic Preservation Review Board at which you hope to see the property presented to the board.  This will generally provide adequate time for us to review your nomination materials and return them to you and for you to make any needed revisions and submit the final version to us before the deadline for the next review board meeting.

Deadline for Submission of Final Nomination Materials (except for Certified Local Governments – see below)

Because intent-to-nominate letters must be mailed to property owners and public officials at least thirty days prior to a scheduled review board meeting under the federal regulations governing the National Register program (36 CFR 800), the revised nominations should be submitted six to eight weeks prior to the review board meeting at which they will be considered to be assured that the SHPO will have adequate time to review the final materials before the deadline.

Deadlines for Nominations of Properties in Communities That Are Certified Local Governments (CLGs)

Initial drafts of nominations for properties in these communities should be submitted at least fourteen-sixteen weeks prior to the meeting at which they will be considered.  The final nomination materials must be submitted at least twelve weeks prior to the review board meeting at which they will be considered so that they can be reviewed and accepted as complete and in final form at least ten weeks prior to the meeting.  This length of time is needed in order to fulfill the notification requirements for CLG communities.

Following acceptance of the final version, we will notify the applicant of the date of the review board meeting at which the nomination will be considered.  Review board meetings are normally held in mid- January, early May, and mid-September. 

A list of the CLG communities in Michigan can be found on the Certified Local Government page of the SHPO’s website