Since 1966, when the federal government created the National Register of Historic Places (a program of the National Park Service), thousands of Illinois historic and prehistoric places have been designated as important resources worthy of preservation. Each year more places are added by applicants who want the prestige, financial benefits, and protections that National Register designation provides. All of the 102 Illinois counties has at least one property or historic district listed in the National Register. High-style mansions, vernacular houses, burial mounds, military aircraft, canals, and historic downtowns together represent a cross section of the Prairie State's history from its early settlement all the way up through the 1960s. The Preservation Services Division, in its role as State Historic Preservation Office, manages the National Register program for Illinois. Anyone can apply to have a property considered for listing in the Register.
Benefits of being listed in the National Register include:
- Potentially stopping the damage or destruction of registered places by requiring state or federally permitted/funded/licensed projects to examine alternatives
- Offering a federal income tax incentive for rehabilitating income-producing places.
- Offering a property tax assessment freeze incentive for rehabilitating single-family, owner-occupied residences
- Increasing awareness and appreciation of registered places
Being listed in the National Register DOES NOT:
- Require private property owners to obtain prior approval to change their property when using private, city or county funds
- Require private property owners to preserve or restore their registered place
- Block state or federally funded/permitted/licensed projects when these are desired by the owner and shown to be in the public interest
The National Register Process in Illinois
Note: The National Register of Historic Places is a federal program, and all applicants go through similar procedures. Except for properties located on federal or tribal lands, applications for properties are initiated in the state in which the property is located. For additional information, visit the home of the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the National Park Service at the following: http://www.nps.gov/nr
Step 1: The applicant reviews information about the National Register on this web page and the National Park Service’s web page.
Step 2: The applicant contacts staff if they have any questions. The applicant is required to fill out the Preliminary National Register Evaluation Form first, unless the property has been determined eligible for listing previously.
Step 3: The applicant receives an advisory staff opinion as to whether the place is a likely candidate for the National Register.
The applicant submits a completed nomination form along with additional supporting materials. Please review the Illinois Nomination Submittal Policy. The nomination form, and detailed instructions on how to complete it, is on the National Park Service’s website
The complete and correct nomination form will be scheduled for the next meeting of the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council
. There are deadlines throughout the year for the Council meetings. The owner of the property and the relevant local government are notified of the Council's pending consideration and are given at least 30 days before the Council's meeting to comment on the proposed designation. In cases where there are more than 50 owners within a proposed historic district, owners will be given general notice by newspaper legal notice. At the Council meeting, the applicant and other interested parties can address the Council relative to the proposed designation, according to the Council By-Laws.
Step 6: If the Council advises for designation of the property, the nomination will be forwarded to the State Historic Preservation Officer of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, who evaluates the place and can nominate it to the National Register.
Step 7: The Keeper of the National Register, Washington, D.C., who has the final authority to designate a place, will review the nominated place. All interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed designation. If the nomination is approved, the place is designated in the National Register of Historic Places.
The following are resources to assist applicants with the National Register Process here in Illinois:
For further assistance contact:
Andrew Heckenkamp, Survey & National Register Coordinator
Amy Hathaway, Survey & National Register Specialist