Historic Registers Guidance and Training Materials

Historic Registers Guidance and Training Materials

The Word documents, PowerPoints, and PDFs below offer guidance for people or organizations interested in nominating a historic individual property or district for listing in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

Any questions about this material should be directed to Lena McDonald, historian and coordinator with DHR’s Register Program. She can be reached by phone at (804) 482-6439.

The Whats and Whys of the Register Program

The Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places: DHR’s Register Program; Benefits of Listing; and Evaluating a Property for Historic Designation: An overview presentation of the Register programs and DHR’s role in administering them, benefits of Register listing, and a summary of how to evaluate if a property is eligible for the Registers. See a PDF or a PowerPoint

A Brief Sketch of Historic Preservation in AmericaA timeline of major milestones in the American historic preservation movement.

Facts Regarding Designation of National Register Historic Districts by Virginia Department of Historic Resources: A DHR handout that answers some of the most commonly asked questions about Register designation and how historic boundaries are selected.

Board Meetings National Register Information: Explains the roles of the Board of Historic Resources and the State Review Board in reviewing and approving nominations to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic Districts in Virginia: An overview of the four different types of historic districts that can be found in Virginia: local, National Historic Landmark, National Register, and Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) districts. Particular emphasis is placed on National Register and VLR districts, as the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) is responsible for administering these two programs. PDF or PowerPoint

Comparison Chart of Four Types of Historic Districts in Virginia: Provides a simple at-a-glance breakdown of how the four types of historic districts differ from, and are similar to one another.

For Owners of Historic Properties

Property Owners’ Frequently Asked Questions about the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.  Provides detailed explanations of the questions DHR receives most commonly from owners of property that is listed in or eligible for listing in the Registers.

How to Research Your Historic Virginia PropertyExtensive guidance for researching all types of historic properties, including specific historic records collections and archival repositories throughout Virginia.

Insurance Coverage of Privately Owned Properties in National Register: Listed Historic Districts and Properties Individually Listed in the National Register: Explains the honorary nature of National Register listing and the absence of repair/reconstruction/restoration requirements of historic properties that have suffered damage, including citation of the relevant federal and state laws and regulations.

Key Points about the National and State Register Process for Property Owners: This two-page document summarizes the legal and regulatory underpinnings of the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, as well as tax credit availability for listed properties, other results of listing, and the process for objecting to listing. All owners of properties with a pending nomination, as well as owners of parcels adjacent to nominated properties, receive this information via U.S. mail prior to the quarterly board meeting at which the nomination will be considered.

Notification and Public Participation Processes for National Register/VLR Nominations in Virginia: Offers a detailed overview of the notification and public participation processes that DHR conducts prior to Register nominations for historic districts and individual properties, as well as links to the federal and state regulatory authority under which DHR works.

Plaques for Register-Listed Properties [pdf]Lists the vendors that fabricate custom plaques for properties listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and/or National Register of Historic Places, along with examples of different plaque designs.

Virginia’s Historic Registers: A Guide for Property Owners (2017 update)

Designed by architect Haig Jamgochian in 1962, the Markel Building, an aluminum structure in Richmond, was inspired by a baked potato wrapped in foil. Each floor consists of a single piece of 555-foot aluminum. Jamgochian personally sledge-hammered the crinkles into the 3rd floor. (Photo: Eli Pousson/WikiMedia Commons)

Technical Guidance—How to Prepare Nominations 
Step by Step

The National Register/Virginia Landmarks Register Process as Managed by the Virginia Department of Historic ResourcesThis flowchart provides a step-by-step summary of the process for preparing and submitting a National Register nomination to DHR.

Register Nomination Checklist: Nomination authors are required to complete a checklist and submit it along with their nomination to DHR; the checklist provides extensive guidance on how to complete the nomination form and accompanying materials.

Photograph Guidance for National Register Nominations in Virginia: Explains the requirements for photos that are submitted to accompany nominations to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, including cameras, digital image format, naming digital files, and other technical specifications.

Guidelines for Maps for National Register Submission in Virginia: Outlines the requirements for preparing the two principal types of maps that accompany nominations – location maps and sketch maps – as well as examples of each type of map.

Virginia Department of Historic Resources Writing Style Sheet: A writing style sheet, based on the style sheet developed by Susan Foard, copy editor for the 4th edition of the Virginia Landmarks Register, edited by Calder Loth, Senior Architectural Historian with DHR; update adds a number of Virginia idioms and pitfalls one should keep in mind.

Inventory Examples for Nominations: Illustrates various ways to format the inventory of contributing and non-contributing resources that must be included in any nomination that has multiple resources.


The 29 Diner (formerly the Tasty 29 Diner), City of Fairfax, was constructed and moved to its site in 1947. DHR listed it in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. (Photo: Marc Wagner/DHR)

Evaluating Eligibility for the Registers

Guide to the Essentials for Evaluating and Nominating a Property to the National Register of Historic Places and Virginia Landmarks Register: Summarizes how to evaluate a property’s significance and integrity before preparing a nomination by using the criteria for evaluation and criteria considerations, identifying the area(s), periods, and level of significance, and applying the seven aspects of integrity.

National Register Eligibility of Historic Cemeteries: Provides guidance on evaluating, researching, and nominating historic cemeteries to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places; it also includes the National Park Service’s policy statement regarding the national significance of all national cemeteries.


Helpful Web Links on This Site and Beyond

Classic Commonwealth: Virginia Architecture from the Colonial Era to 1940

New Dominion Virginia Architectural Style Guide

National Register Guidance Publications (NPS Website)