Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Historic Registers

DHR administers two programs designed to recognize Virginia’s historic resources and to encourage their continued preservation: the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

The Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR):

  • Was created in 1965 by the General Assembly in the Code of Virginia;
  • Is the Commonwealth’s official list of places of historic, architectural, archaeological and/or cultural significance;
  • Is managed by staff of the Department of Historic Resources on behalf of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources;
  • Is designed to educate the public about the significance of listed places;
  • Has the same criteria and nomination process as the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Register of Historic Places

  • Was established in 1966 by the National Historic Preservation Act;
  • Is the official list of structures, sites, objects, and districts that embody the historical and cultural foundations of the United States;
  • Includes places of local, state, and national significance;
  • Is managed by the Department of Historic Resources in partnership with the National Park Service for properties in Virginia.

Permission of a majority of private property owners is required for an individually nominated property or a historic district to be listed in the VLR or the National Register. Both types of listing are treated the same under state and federal laws and regulations.

What Does Listing a Property or Historic District in the VLR or National Register Mean?

Listing in the Registers:

  • Is strictly honorary;
  • Officially recognizes the historic significance of a place, building, site, or area;
  • Encourages but does not require preservation of the property or historic district;
  • Offers limited protections to properties from potentially harmful federally- or state-funded activities;
  • May qualify owners for voluntary state and federal rehabilitation tax credit programs and DHR’s easement program

Listing in the Registers Does Not

  • Prevent an owner from renovating or demolishing buildings;
  • Require an owner to restore or renovate property;
  • Restrict an owner’s use of the property;
  • Increase property values or taxes;
  • Regulate local governments or require creation of a local historic preservation program
    • Local governments have the authority to create historic preservation ordinances and historic district overlays; these and other such efforts are locally controlled, do not involve DHR, and are not part of the Register process.

A Property that can be Nominated for Listing in the Registers should:

  • Have achieved historical significance at least 50 years prior to today and/or is of exceptional importance; and
  • Is associated with at least one of the following:
    • An important event or historic trend;
    • A significant person whose specific contributions to history can be identified and documented;
    • An important architectural or engineering design; or it represents the work of a master; or it is a distinguishable entity although its components may lack individual distinction;
    • Has the potential to answer important research questions about human history (most commonly these properties are archaeological sites); and
  • Retain physical integrity through retention of historic materials, appearance, design, and other physical features.

Learn More:

Old house, now demolished.
Typifying a vernacular architectural style common to Virginia, this house was located in the Afton-Greenwood Rural Historic District (Nelson and Albemarle Cos.). It was demolished after the district was listed in the registers.

The process for having your property evaluated for Register eligibility is explained at the webpage Preliminary Evaluation and Nomination Process. If you have additional questions, contact your nearest regional office.

Each nomination must be reviewed and approved by DHR before it will be scheduled for presentation to the Virginia State Review Board and the Board of Historic Resources. DHR is responsible for assuring that nominations meet scholarly standards, are factually accurate, and conform to state and federal regulations. Nominations that do not meet these requirements will be returned to the property owner and/or author for revisions and will not proceed to the Boards until receiving approval by DHR.

Completed nominations that will be considered at the next quarterly meeting of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and the Virginia State Review Board are posted at Board Activities webpage about one month in advance of the board meeting.

For more information about the Registers, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.

Updated March 2, 2021