For information on the topics below, click on a heading or bulletted subheading.
Numerous laws and regulations direct state agencies to consider impacts to historic properties owned by the Commonwealth and consult with the Department of Historic Resources. It is important to note that DHR’s role is advisory. We provide technical assistance and guidance but do not approve or deny projects. The sole exception is the Virginia Antiquities Act, which requires a permit from DHR for any archaeological survey on state land or archaeological removal of human burials regardless of the ownership of the land.
Please see this document, State Laws and Regulations (PDF), for a list of state laws, regulations, and directives that are relevant to projects initiated by state agencies.
Most of the information on state-owned architectural properties in DHR’s files derives from a survey conducted in 1988 and revised in 1991 by Land and Community Associates of Charlottesville. DHR’s survey examined individual publicly-owned buildings, structures, and landscape elements managed by 24 separate government entities. Unfortunately, this survey data is now out of date. As a rule, architectural surveys are only valuable for a maximum of seven years, since changing circumstances may affect the historic integrity, or even existence, of a property. The survey only focused on buildings that were at least 40 years old in the late 1980s, thus buildings built after 1950 were excluded. The survey also does not reflect any additional registered properties, demolitions, or acquisitions since 1990.
Please see this document, Cultural Resource Survey (PDF), for a summary of state-owned properties included in the 1988 and 1991 cultural resource surveys.
Created by the General Assembly in 1966, the same year the federal government created the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), the Virginia Landmarks Register is the official list of properties—buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts—important to Virginia’s history. The VLR uses the same basic criteria as the National Register, and in Virginia, most properties that listed in the VLR are also listed in the NRHP. There are three requirements all properties must meet for inclusion on either register:
- Be at least 50 years old.
- Meet at least one or more of the four (4) criteria for historic significance, as follows:
- Be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.
- Be associated with the lives of persons significant in our past.
- Embody distinctive architectural characteristics (of a type, period, or method of construction or design; representing the work of a master or possessing high artistic values; or when taken as a district embodies one or more of the preceding characteristics, even though its components may lack individual distinction).
- Have yielded or are likely to yield, normally through archaeological investigation, information important
to understanding the broad patterns or major events of prehistory or history.
- Have sufficient physical integrity to reflect adequately those qualities for which it is being considered.
Listing a property on the state or national register is simply an honorary designation. The VLR places no restrictions on the actions of a property owner, whether private or state-owned. Registration does not prevent the resource from being changed, nor does it require the property to be restored to a past appearance or use.
For more information on how to register a state-property, please visit this page in the Register section of this website.
The National Park Service manages two other types of landmark designations: National Historic Landmark sites, and World Heritage sites.
National Historic Landmarks (NHL) are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they are essential to illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places nationwide bear this national distinction. In Virginia, there are 122 resources on the list, of which 13 are state-owned.
World Heritage sites are cultural and natural areas of significance warranting recognition at an international level. These sites are selected and nominated by the National Park Service’s United States Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS). There are 21 World Heritage sites in the U.S.; Virginia has one listing affiliated with Thomas Jefferson’s architectural designs: Monticello and the University of Virginia Historic District (the two sites are designated as one listing, thematically united as embodying components of Jefferson’s architectural ideas).
Do you need your project reviewed by DHR? Please see the topics below for information on what to submit, how to get an archaeological permit, Environmental Impact Reports (EIR), and the difference between the AARB and DHR.
In order for DHR to review your project you must submit a project review application either electronically via ePIX or hard copy. It is very important that you have all required supplemental materials in addition to the form, as outlined below.
The actual materials listed below for an ePIX application and a hard copy application are the same. The difference is that the e-PIX system allows for electronic submission of documents; moreover, e-PIX is required for a brand new project (one not previously reviewed by DHR). If you do not know if your specific project has been previously reviewed, please contact Roger Kirchen.
Here is the list of required documents:
- DHR Project Review Application Form (PDF).
- Project Description: Purpose of project, description of proposed work, identified historic resources, and any alternatives explored to the proposed project.
- Area of Potential Effects (APE) for Direct (Construction Limits) and Indirect Effects (i.e., visual limits) drawn on a USGS or Aerial Map. APE for indirect effects should account for auditory, visual, and reasonably foreseeable secondary effects (e.g. access roads, future development, etc.). Please see these examples (PDF): Streetscape APE and APE example on topo.
- Completed DHR Archives Search within your APE for indirect effects. You can complete this search yourself or have DHR Archives staff complete it for a fee. Visit this page of the Archives section of this website to learn about requesting an Archives search.
- Photographs of the project area within the APE. Minimum 4×6 in size, and no more than two per page.
- Construction plans reproduced at no larger than 11 x 17 inches, including a site plan, grading elevation, architectural elevations, and architectural details, at minimum.
It is DHR’s policy to return comments back via email within 30-calendar days from the business day we receive the application. Reviews often take 30-days due to the high volume of applications DHR receives, so please be patient. DHR highly encourages applicants to gather all the required information before sending in an application—this is the minimum amount of information DHR needs to complete an initial review. If any of the above-mentioned items are missing, the application will be returned.
Please note: A cultural resources report should not be submitted in lieu of a project review application. Please include the above information in addition to a report. When reports are received, any surveyed architectural resources must clear our QA/QC prior to starting the 30-day review clock. Please work with Blake McDonald, on the QA/QC of architectural survey forms, and be sure to copy the correct RCD (Review and Compliance Division) reviewer on any correspondence.
Any archaeological studies conducted on state-owned land require a permit from DHR. Go here for a copy of the permit application.
Environmental Impact Reports (EIR) are required for major state projects by a state agency. Per §10.1-1188 Code of Virginia, major is defined as, “state facility construction, or acquisition of land interests for purposes of construction costing more than $500,000 with exceptions specified by law.” When preparing information for an EIR, a state agency or its consultant, should submit the same information as required for a project review application – see guidance under What to submit? (above). Additional information beyond this is unnecessary and costly. The need for a cultural resources survey is generally determined by DHR since not every project requires one.
The Bureau of Capital Outlay Management (BCOM) requires many agencies to get approval from DHR and the Art and Architectural Review Board (AARB) for acquisition, new construction, or demolition of state-owned property. We must emphasize that DHR is an advisory agency and does not give approval, and is only allowed the opportunity to review and comment on projects. DHR does not approve or deny demolitions, nor can we stop a proposed project; however, in the event of an adverse impact to a historic resource, DHR can request mitigation to offset the loss of a significant building.
The AARB on the other hand reviews only the design of buildings and art to encourage aesthetics and functionality. The AARB and DHR are not the same agency or review board, and operate in entirely separate capacities. However, an ex-officio member of DHR sits on the AARB to represent the interests of DHR. Review by the AARB is not the same as DHR review. If pursuant to state law, a project must go through both reviews processes. DHR advises beginning review with DHR prior to the AARB, and it has proved advantageous to allow for a smoother review process.
Virginia Department of Historic Resources
2801 Kensington Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221
Julie V. Langan
Director/State Historic Preservation Officer
Joanna Wilson Green
Archaeology Stewardship, Easement Program Archaeologist
Archivist & Historian
Director, Division of Review and Compliance
Elizabeth A. Moore