Saturday, March 3, 2012

National Register of Historic Places Workshop: Part 2

Welcome to the second part of the National Register nomination workshop! Be sure to check out Part 1 in this series of posts in case you missed it- it is very important! Today we will focus on the background research and documentation that is necessary to complete the nomination form.

In order to compose a proper history and description for your historic property's nomination, you must first do your research. This will involve physically investigating and documenting the site as well as research at your local library, archives, historical society and/or court house on the history of your property. Key topics you will want to be thinking about besides the architectural features and physical description of the property are:

- geographical features
-owner history
-architect or builder
-changes to the property over time
-construction methods
-form and style of the property
-historic contexts
-association with important events or people
-how unique or rare your property type and its features are to your region

For advice on how to to better discover your home's history (the methods of which can be applied to any property), visit this post.

Developing appropriate historic contexts is a very important part of the nomination. Whether that context be architecture, agriculture, politics, military, or an aspect of social history, it is critical that you provide enough historical background information to illustrate how your historic property contributes to a greater historic context. For more information on preparing the essays for various contexts, refer to National Register Bulletins 15 and 39.

Documenting your property with sketches and photography is equally as important as recording its architectural features in writing. You will want to take a liberal amount of digital photos, especially since you can always delete the unnecessary ones later. Take overall shots of the house from each angle, of each elevation, and be sure to capture architectural details as well as larger context shots.

It is a good idea to also sketch a floor plan of the property if you do not already have one available to you. If you are documenting a farm complex or group of properties that go together, sketch out a map of the entire complex property showing the relationship of the various buildings to each other and to other nearby geographical features.

I hope this has helped shed some light on the National Register nomination process. Stay tuned for future workshops that will focus on making a case for your property's significance and completing the nomination form itself. Have fun researching!