To be listed on the state and national historic registers, a property must go through a two-step process that begins with a preliminary evaluation. If the site receives a thumbs up during this first step, then the second step requires a formal nomination to the state and national registers.
During the preliminary evaluation stage, a site is reviewed by a special committee of the Department of Historic Resources and DHR’s State Review Board during one of the board’s quarterly meetings. In most cases, the board makes its preliminary determination of whether a property is eligible for the register based on the information submitted in a Preliminary Information Form (PIF).
Accordingly, the first step involves submitting a PIF, which is a distinct and separate document from the formal nomination report that is completed for step two. The purpose of the PIF is to provide sufficient information for the State Review Board to judge if a property or proposed historic district warrants more detailed documentation for nomination, as required by the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places. Before completing a PIF, please refer to the step-by-step guide to the evaluation process. Also, you may wish to review good examples of completed PIFs (see below) that have been submitted to DHR in the past.
When the PIF is completed, before it is forwarded to the State Review Board, it is reviewed by DHR’s internal Register Evaluation Team. This interdisciplinary committee meets twice a month and makes a recommendation regarding a property or proposed historic district’s register eligibility to the State Review Board. Such factors as the architectural integrity of a building (or buildings in the case of a historic district), historical background, and regional representation on the register are considered by the board members in their evaluations.
The National Register for Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register “Criteria for Evaluation” is used in the determination. If the State Review Board judges the information sufficient, it will act upon the question of the property or district’s eligibility. The board may concur with the staff recommendation that an individual property or district is eligible for listing, request further information, or make recommendations.
If the State Review Board determines a resource is eligible for register listing, a formal nomination to the registers comes next. Nomination forms require detailed historical and architectural documentation proving that the resource meets certain criteria. Many owners hire private consultants to prepare the nomination. Before proceeding with a nomination, refer to the step-by-step guide to the nomination process.
The length of time for the completion of a nomination depends on who prepares it and the nature of the resource. For nominations prepared by private consultants, the time period rests with the consultant.
The Department of Historic Resources has continually maintained high standards for properties listed on the national and state registers. Registration is thus selective and honorific. DHR staff will be glad to answer questions regarding the register program and the PIF or formal nomination process and procedures.
Preliminary Information Forms:
The PIFs can be downloaded and printed by selecting the “Preliminary Eval. & Nom. Forms” link in the navigation box on the top-right side of this page. Again, please refer to the guide to the evaluation process (see above) before beginning. Once completed, the form must be submitted to your nearest regional office. The form serves as a starting point for the historical and architectural documentation DHR staff needs to assess a property’s eligibility for the registers. Please note that the evaluation process of the forms usually takes three to four months to complete.
Updated May 10, 2018