Frequently Asked Questions
How do I nominate a property to the National Register?
Please see Nominating a Property.
How long does it take to get a property listed on the National Register? Can it be expedited?
From start to finish, it generally takes about one year to nominate and list a property. The State Historic Preservation Office has a review schedule with specific deadlines that relate to the required review meetings held in February, June and October of each year. Once a nomination is approved at a review meeting and requested changes are made, it generally takes about two months to hear back from the National Park Service that they have accepted a nomination for listing. There is no way to expedite this process.
Will someone in the State Historic Preservation Office help me write my nomination?
All research, writing, revisions, and preparation of nominations are your responsibility. State Historic Preservation Office staff will provide suggestions, directions, and advice throughout the revision process but will not prepare, research, edit, or write nominations for you. Please see Nominating a Property for further details.
If my building is old, does that mean it is eligible for the National Register?
Unfortunately, old does not always equal “historic.” In historic preservation, “historic” means that a property is eligible for the National Register. Eligibility is determined by its historic significance, age (usually at least 50 years or older), and ability to convey that history through its physical appearance, otherwise known as its historic integrity. Please see Nominating a Property and the National Park Service’s How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation for further details.
Can a building that will be moved or has already been moved from its original location still be eligible for the National Register?
Moving a property can be problematic for National Register eligibility. When an historic building, structure, or object is moved, the link between it and its location and setting, both of which are integral to understanding the history of a property, is destroyed. In general, moved properties are only eligible for the National Register if they have great architectural value or they are the only important, surviving structure or building associated with a significant historic person or event. Additionally, the new setting for a moved property needs to be similar to its historic setting. More guidance on moved properties is available through the National Park Service.
If you are interested in moving a building, structure, or object that is already listed in the National Register, the National Park Service will need to approve the move prior to it taking place for the property to remain listed. Moves without advanced approval will result in delisting of the property. Please contact the State Historic Preservation Office to learn more about the required documentation, process, and timeline for approvals.
Where do I find information about grants or financial assistance to help me repair or restore my property?
The State Historical Society of Iowa has Historical Resource Development Program grants that can be used for the repair or restoration of properties listed on the National Register. Tax incentives are also available for the sensitive rehabilitation of historic buildings.
Can I remodel, alter, renovate, or tear down my building if it is listed in the National Register?
No federal or state regulations prohibit owners from altering, renovating, remodeling or even destroying their listed properties unless the project uses federal money, licenses, or permits or state funds through preservation grants or tax incentives. If significant modifications that are incompatible with the historic character of the property do occur or if it is demolished, the property may be delisted from the National Register. For more information, see the National Park Service’s Frequently Asked Questions about the National Register and what it means for property owners.
Can I write a nomination myself or do I have to hire a professional?
Anyone can write a nomination as long as they are willing to put in the time, patience, effort, and willingness to learn that it takes to complete a nomination. Guidance is available from both the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. The State Historic Preservation Office will work with you during the process to refine the document, suggest resources for further research, identify areas that need to be strengthened, ensure technical requirements are met, and focus the argument for significance. Please see Nominating a Property for further details.