Preliminary Evaluation and Nomination Processes

Preliminary Evaluation and Nomination Processes

Thank you for your interest in DHR’s Historic Registers program. By undertaking a nomination project, you are contributing to the public understanding of Virginia’s history, architecture, and archaeology.
Please know that there are no “typical” nomination projects, as each place has been shaped by its own unique circumstances.
The same nomination packet is prepared for both the Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Although listing in both the state and national registers is honorary, there are stringent standards regarding the historical research, photography, mapping, field inspection, and architectural (and archaeological, if applicable) analysis that make up a nomination packet. To meet these requirements, you will need to be patient, thorough, and detail-oriented.
As the State Historic Preservation Office, 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.
If you are new to the Historic Registers program, please refer to this step-by-step breakdown [pdf] of the register evaluation and nomination process.
Next, contact the DHR Regional Preservation Office that serves the area where your property or historic district is located. A regional staff member will be your first point of contact as you begin work on documenting your property or district.
DHR manages the registers program as a two-step process consisting of evaluation for eligibility and then nomination for listing on both registers.
Step One: The Preliminary Information Form (PIF):

The first step toward potentially listing a property or historic district in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places begins with completing a Preliminary Information Form (PIF).
DHR’s register program staff created the above 7+ minute video about the importance of the PIF and what DHR staff look for when evaluating a property using the PIF. The good news is that the 5-page form (linked below) is relatively simple to complete. If you want some tips or just to familiarize yourself with the form before beginning your project, this video is a great place to start.

DHR’s Preliminary Information Form (PIF) provides baseline information for evaluating a property’s eligibility for the historic registers and is intended to allow a property owner to move forward on a preliminary evaluation without a lot of up front costs or investment of time:
A completed PIF is evaluated first by DHR’s Regional Preservation Office staff. At their discretion, the PIF next will be presented to DHR’s internal evaluation committee, which is made up of staff members with expertise in history, architectural history, and archaeology.
  • This committee recommends if an individual property, archaeological site, or a proposed historic district should proceed to listing in the historic registers.
  • If DHR staff recommend that a PIF proceed, then your Regional Preservation Office staff contact will present it at the next available quarterly meeting of the State Review Board. The SRB may concur with the staff recommendation, request further information, and/or make specific recommendations on aspects of preparing and improving a nomination.
Step Two: Preparing a Formal Nomination
If the SRB approves a PIF during one of its quarterly meetings, then you may proceed with preparing a formal nomination for the state and national registers. As you prepare the nomination, DHR’s Regional Preservation Office staff will continue to serve as your first point of contact throughout the process.

Some points to consider regarding the nomination process:

  • Refer to the Register Nomination Checklist for detailed instructions about preparing a nomination packet.
    • Note that nomination materials are not subject to copyright. Maps, photographs, and nomination forms submitted to DHR become part of the public record and are retained in DHR’s permanent archives, which is open to the public. Please note, however, that culturally sensitive information will be redacted according to current professional practices.
  • A successful nomination requires detailed historical and architectural documentation to prove that a resource meets certain register criteria.
  • Many private property owners choose to hire a consultant to prepare the nomination. DHR maintains a Trades and Consultants Directory with contact information for the numerous historic preservation professionals who work in Virginia.
  • Property owners, local historians, historical society staff, local government staff, college students, and other people with limited experience can prepare successful nominations. Such projects typically require considerable effort and time to complete.
  • DHR’s Regional Preservation Office staff are available to provide technical assistance to all nomination authors.
  • Please note that the length of time required for completing a nomination depends in large part on the complexity of the individual property or historic district that is being nominated. Additionally, the nomination author’s availability to work on the project will affect the amount of time required for completion.
  • As Virginia’s State Historic Preservation Office, DHR is responsible for assuring that nominations meet scholarly standards, are factually accurate, and conform to state and federal regulations. Please remember that nominations that do not meet these requirements will be returned to the property owner and/or author for revisions.
  • Both the VLR and National Register were established in 1966. For more than 50 years, DHR has continually maintained high standards for the evaluation and nomination process. Listing is thus selective and honorific.
DHR staff will be glad to answer questions regarding the Register program and the PIF and nomination process and procedures.