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Frequently Asked Questions

National Register of Historic Places Program

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register, maintained by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, is the nation’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. The significance of a property is evaluated on a local, statewide, or national scale.

What are the criteria for listing a property in the National Register?

The criteria can be found on our website.

What are the benefits of listing?
  • Listing in the National Register gives official recognition to the historic and cultural importance of a property as part of the Nation’s heritage that ought to be preserved.
  • Properties listed in the National Register or deemed eligible for such listing are afforded protection from adverse impact by projects funded, licensed, or executed by the Federal Government, since Federal projects which affect such properties are subject to review by the State Historic Preservation Officer and, if necessary, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Washington, D. C.
  • Depreciable properties in the National Register may qualify for certified rehabilitation tax credit incentives under the historic preservation provisions of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
What restrictions are imposed when a property is listed in the National Register?
  • Control and authority over the use and disposition of a property listed in the National Register or deemed eligible for such listing remain solely with the owner unless he or she has applied for and received a matching grant or other Federal funding, or is participating in a rehabilitation tax credit project. Listing in the National Register does not mean that limitations will be placed on the property by the Federal government.
  • Owners of private property listed in the National Register have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them, or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so. Owners can do anything they wish with their property provided that no Federal license, permit, or funding is involved.
How can I find out if a property is listed in the National Register?
  1. Search the National Register Information System (NRIS) to locate properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. NRIS search tips:
    • Use the “Name” button to look for properties by resource name, architect/engineer, significant person, or multiple property submission name.
    • Use the “Location” button to find properties by state, city, or county.
  2. Check the new National Register listings on this website.
  3. Check to see if your property is located within a historic district.
  4. Contact the National Register Coordinator in Maine either by e-mail ( or by phone (207) 287-5435.
I’ve been told my property is in a National Register district, but I can’t find it on the National Register NRIS database. Why not?

The NRIS database is searchable by Location (State, County or City), Subject, Agency, or Name. If you search by Name you need to enter all or part of the Historic District name to find the listing. Individual properties located within a historic district will not show up in the NRIS database. The database only records the name of the historic district. Accessing the “Get A Map” feature will help to illustrate where the district is located.

To find out if your property is located within a National Register historic district, or wish to know if your property is considered to be a contributing resource, contact the National Register Coordinator at the Commission. (207) 287-5435.

What is a historic district?

A district is a grouping of properties that posses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development. When a district is listed in the National Register, every property in the district which is defined as a contributing property is considered to be listed in the Register, although the actual listing name refers to the group of properties. A non-contributing property is one that is geographically situated in the district but because of age, style, function, or changes to the architectural fabric is not considered to possess integrity, or does not presently contribute to understanding the significance of the district

Is there any difference between having a property individually listed in the National Register and being listed in a National Register district?

No. The protections and benefits of the National Register are equally applied regardless of whether a property is listed individually or is a contributing resource within a historic district.

If my property is listed in a National Register district can it also be listed individually?

While it is possible, and has occurred periodically (usually when the neighborhood around and individually listed property is listed as a district), such listings are redundant and unnecessary.

What conditions are imposed on owners of buildings in a historic district?

None. A building listed in the National Register in a historic district is treated exactly the same as a property listed individually.

What are the advantages of a historic district over an individual listing in the National Register?

A primary advantage is that a historic district in a downtown commercial area facilitates revitalization planning and may qualify the area for participation in other federal grant programs. In addition, some buildings that contribute to the historic character of the district but that are not significant enough for individual listing in the National Register receive the same benefits as individually listed properties.

Will listing in the National Register, either individually or in a historic district, affect local property taxes, zoning, or the town’s ability to control these matters?

No. In and of itself, National Register listing has no bearing on local governmental authority.

How long does it take to have a property listed in the National Register?

Depending on the complexity of the nomination and the Review Board schedule, listing can take from nine months to several years. On average, most properties are listed in about one year.

How is a property nominated to the National Register?

See the National Register Application Process.

Does Maine have a State Register of Historic Places?

No. Maine utilizes the National Register of Historic Places to recognize properties worthy of preservation in the state.

Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program

What is a rehabilitation tax credit?

It is a 20% tax credit (not deduction) available to any project that is a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. The 20% credit is available for depreciable properties that have been rehabilitated for commercial, industrial, agricultural, or rental residential purposes. It is not available for properties used exclusively as the owner’s private residence.

What is a certified rehabilitation?

It is a rehabilitation project that has been certified by the National Park Service (NPS) as being consistent with the historic character of the property and, where applicable, the district in which it is located. Certifiable rehabilitation projects accommodate modern uses in a building but do not damage, destroy, or cover materials or features on the interior or exterior of the building which define the building’s historic character.

How does the NPS determine a rehabilitation project maintains the historic character of a property?

The NPS reviews the rehabilitation project for conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The entire project is reviewed, including related demolition and new construction, and is certified only if the overall rehabilitation project meets the Standards. For more information on the Standards visit the NPS Online Education website.

What is a certified historic structure?

It is a building that is listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, OR a building that is located in a National Register historic district or certified local historic district and has been certified by the NPS as contributing to the significance of that district.

How do I get my rehabilitation project certified by the NPS?

You must complete a Historic Preservation Certification Application and submit two complete original copies of the application to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. It is highly recommended that the Part 1 and Part 2 of the application be submitted to the Commission BEFORE any work is undertaken on the building.

How do I get a copy of the Historic Preservation Certification Application?

You can contact the Commission at 207-287-2132 to request a paper copy be sent to you via US Mail.

What IRS requirements do I have to meet to take advantage of the federal rehabilitation tax credit?

It is highly recommended that you consult with a tax professional before starting work to determine if you can use this tax credit. For more information on the IRS requirements for this tax credit visit the NPS IRS Connection website.

Historic Preservation Covenants/Easements/Preservation Interests

How do I know if the Commission holds a Historic Preservation Covenant, Easement or Preservation Interest on my property?

You should contact the Commission at 207-287-2132. It is best to have both the current address and historic name of the property available for reference.

What information do I have to submit to the Commission to request review of proposed work on a property that has a Preservation Covenant, Easement or Interest on it?

The following documentation should be submitted to the Commission to initiate review of proposed work:

  1. Cover letter which describes the proposed project.
  2. Overall and detailed photographs of the proposed work area.
  3. Work description or plans and specifications (if available) for the proposed work. This should have enough detail to identify what materials will be used and the repair methods. In some cases a condition assessment report is necessary to document the deterioration and justify the proposed repair.
Consultation with the Commission should be initiated as early as possible during project planning in order to allow time for resolving any issues relating to the proposed work.

How will I know if my proposed work has been approved?

The Commission will respond within 30 days to either approve the proposed work or ask for additional information.

Project Review

Do you accept electronic (email) or fax requests for review and compliance projects?

No, we require that materials for project review be submitted via regular mail.

How long will it take to get a response to my request for project review?

We will usually respond within 20 to 30 days from the time we receive the information. Our response will either be an “effect” finding or a request for additional information. If we have to request additional information in order to receive adequate documentation, our review period restarts from the time we receive the requested information. Pursuant to the implementing regulations for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, our office is allowed 30 days to object to or concur with “an adequately documented finding” of effect from an agency official ( [see 36 CFR 800.11]). Unfortunately, in practice, agency officials rarely have a complete understanding of the Section 106 process and its requirements, and property owners, developers, contractors, surveyors and others who have little or no training in historic preservation are left to comply with the Section 106 requirements. Therefore, the Commission must often request further information in order to receive the adequate documentation necessary to make accurate assessments of a property’s National Register eligibility, as well as the undertaking’s effect upon historic properties.

What should I send with my request for a project review?

A cover letter describing the project and why it needs our review, a 7.5' USGS quad map with the project boundaries clearly and accurately depicted, and photos of any buildings over fifty years of age that are on, adjacent to, or across the street from, the project site and any associated access roads. All building photos should be keyed to the quad map, and should provide clear unobstructed views of the subject building. Please note that in some instances the MHPC will need to request additional information (such as project plans, building specifications, historical information on a property, etc.) even when all of the above information is submitted. Please see 36 CFR 800.11 .

Who do I send project review information to?

Maine Historic Preservation Commission
55 Capitol Street
65 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0065