The National Register of Historic Places & the State of New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties

[Karla K. McWilliams] Hello this video
is a production of the State of New Mexico Historic Preservation Division and features information about listing in the National Register of Historic Places and the State of New Mexico
Register of Cultural Properties. For more information about the
Historic Preservation Division and our programs visit [Steven Moffson] The National Register of Historic Places is an essential program that affects every level of historic preservation in the United States. My name is Steven Moffson and I am the
State and National Register Coordinator for the Historic Preservation Division, which also serves as the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) Today, I’m going to talk about the
National Register process. The National Register was
codified into law as part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Act was passed in response to the loss of historic properties as part of the
large-scale construction activities undertaken after the Second World War. This includes the construction of the interstate highway system which resulted
in great losses of historic properties especially in cities in the east and Midwest. The Cross Bronx Expressway is part of the interstate highway system. It cut a seven mile swath through some of the most densely developed neighborhoods in the country displacing tens of thousands of residents and destroying thousands of historic properties. The act was a response to the loss of historic ethnic neighborhoods as part of so-called slum clearance projects. Many African American neighborhoods were replaced by
public housing projects such as Robert Taylor homes in Chicago. The Act was also a response to the near loss of historic landmarks such as the homes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. These trends culminated in the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. This law was part of President Johnson’s Great Society program and it includes numerous historic preservation programs. Most importantly this is the first time in American history that our nation has had a policy to address historic properties. The Act gave the National
Park Service the administrative role of setting policy and each state has the
responsibility of managing these federal preservation programs. In the case of the National Register, most of the work is carried out by the states. The National
Park Service reviews final nominations and, if approved, lists them in the
National Register. So, what is the National Register of Historic Places? It’s defined as our nation’s official list of historic places worthy of preservation. The National Register is also an important archive of America’s historic built environment through description, history, and photographs. In New Mexico, our State Register of Cultural Properties mirrors the National Register in many ways,
including the criteria for evaluation. Listing in the State Register is also a requirement for state residents seeking tax credits for approved rehabilitation projects. You can find more information
on the State Register and the tax incentives programs on our web site at In order to be listed in the National Register and the State Register a property must be at least 50 years of age and it must
maintain its historic integrity. Historic integrity is a measure of a
property’s authenticity. A property with a high level of historic integrity maintains its historic design,
materials, and workmanship. That is, a property must look nearly the same today as it did in the past. Put another way, would the original property owner recognize this building? In this case the answer is “yes”. Does this building maintain its historic integrity? No, because it’s lost so much historic fabric that it no longer conveys its significance. Lastly, an historic property must
meet one or more of the four criteria. Criterion A states that a property must be associated with an important event. An event may be an important battle
that lasted a single day or a long-term activity like commerce which may have lasted decades. Criterion B is an association with a significant person in our past. Criterion C states that properties may be eligible as outstanding or representative
examples of architecture, engineering or landscape architecture. Criterion D requires that a property have the potential to yield important information
through archaeology. It’s important to remember that the National Register measures all historic properties by the same nationwide standard and that the National Register criteria are the official standards by which federal, state, and local governments
determine if properties are historic. So, what kinds of properties
are listed in the National Register? The National Register lists categories of
properties, including buildings. Houses, which are the most
common property type, may be large with elements of an established architectural style, or they may be small and plain, like this modern house. Commercial buildings are critical to understanding economics and social history
in rural New Mexico. Skyscrapers are another type of commercial building although in New
Mexico these are few and most were built in Albuquerque. Courthouses are characterized as
community landmark buildings. These are important visual
landmarks and also important places where residents in a community come together. Libraries, post offices, and schools are also community landmark buildings. Structures are another type of property. These are defined as functional
constructions not meant for human habitation. Bridges are structures and so are acequias or irrigation ditches. These are among the earliest historic
resources in the state and they continue to support agriculture in New Mexico. Sites are another type of resource
listed in the National Register. Sites are typically places where important events have occurred but where little
physical evidence remains. These may include battle fields such as
Glorieta Pass, seen here where a Confederate loss ended the South’s
ambitions in the West, and archaeological sites that have yielded or may be likely to yield important information in prehistory and history are also listed. This includes Chaco Culture National Historic Park in northwest New Mexico. The National Register also lists objects such as sculptures, fountains, and murals. Objects are small in scale and artistic in nature. Cemeteries are sites that include markers,
which are objects. Historic districts are another property
type however, they are a special property type because they are complete historic
environments that may include buildings, sites, structures, and objects. The most common type of historic district in New Mexico is the residential neighborhood, followed by downtown commercial districts, and farms and ranches. Always bear in mind that the National Register of Historic Places is about historic places. Historic resources have meaning when they are associated with their communities. It is also why the National Register lists geography,
points of latitude and longitude, rather than buildings and structures. It is also why moved buildings are not eligible for listing in the National Register. When you move a building,
you remove it from its historic associations. So, now that we
know the criteria for evaluation and what types of properties can be listed,
let’s consider what the National Register does and does not do and how it
helps preserve historic properties. The National Register recognizes historic properties. If property owners understand
why their properties are important they can be better stewards of their historic properties. The National Register
provides a national standard to evaluate the historical significance of a property. Resources in Alaska, Iowa, Georgia, and New Mexico, for example, may be very different but the criteria by which they are evaluated is exactly the same. The National Register, with over 90,000 listings nationwide, is a major archive of our nation’s history. The criteria for evaluation provide a common standard by which federal, state, and local governments identify historic properties for all manner of projects. It’s important to remember that listing in the National Register does not place any restrictions on the use of private property. Listing in the National Register does not require that you paint your house a certain color. It is also important to remember that listing in the National Register is not the same as local historic district zoning or
local landmark designation. This is a common misconception. Local historic designations are determined by local governments and the residents of a community. The National Register identifies historic properties but the hard work of preservation is a partnership between the city and its residents. Benefits for properties listed in the National Register and the
New Mexico State Register includes substantial tax credits for approved rehabilitations. In New Mexico most residents take advantage of the state tax credit for qualified rehabilitations. Federal tax credit projects for income-producing properties include the Simms Building, Albuquerque High School and El Vado Motel. The process of listing in the National Register begins when information on a property is submitted to the Historic Preservation Division. If our National Register staff determines that the property meets the National Register criteria the applicant must then prepare a National Register nomination. Historic Preservation Division staff will review the nomination and, if approved, will present the nomination at a meeting of the New Mexico Cultural Properties
Review Committee (CPRC), an independent board of
preservation related professionals. If approved by the CPRC the nomination is sent to the National Park Service staff in Washington, DC, for their final review. If the National Park Service believes the nomination meets their standards they will list the property in the National Register of Historic Places. Communities throughout New Mexico have seen the benefits of listing in the National Register. These benefits include a greater understanding of the history and significance of local properties, and the revitalization of individual properties in neighborhoods. Nomination materials may be used for walking or driving tours to educate the public about their historic neighborhoods and communities may celebrate the official listing with a public event that shows pride in their historic neighborhoods. Better informed communities make
better stewards of historic properties Thank you for your interest in the
history of New Mexico and the National Register of Historic Places. More information on the State and National Registers and the tax incentive programs is available at our website:

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