The National Register of Historic Places is a list of historic places that tell the stories of the people and events that form America’s collective identity. This prestigious list is also one of the most valuable tools individuals and communities have to encourage the preservation of important historic places.
Appropriately, this process begins with the people—it is not a top-down process. Individuals and communities can nominate properties that serve as historical touchstones to a shared history. The National Register is a federal program of the National Park Service and administered within Nebraska by the State Historic Preservation Office.
Nebraska currently has over 1,000 listed properties throughout the state. These properties range from private residences to county courthouses to archeological sites. Also, properties listed in the National Register are potentially eligible for State and Federal tax incentives.
Check out our map of National Register properties in Nebraska to learn more about our state’s many cultural treasures and to see if your property is already listed.
Photo: The Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff
What are the benefits of listing my property?
If my property is listed will I still be able to make alterations, changes, additions, etc.?
The National Register does not place any restrictions on property owners. The state and the federal government have no control over listed properties. You are free to maintain or renovate your property as you see fit. However, we encourage you to check with the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office before starting projects, especially if you are interested in qualifying for a historic tax credit program. Listed properties that are demolished or have significant alterations, compromising essential historical features, can be removed from the National Register.
Is my property eligible for listing?
How do I determine if my property is significant?
Properties are eligible for the National Register must be associated with one or more of the four established Criteria:
- Events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history
- The lives of significant persons in our past
- Embody the distinctive characteristics of an architectural type, period, or method of construction
- Have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory
Historic documentation must be provided to support a claim of a property’s significance. It has to go beyond being loosely associated with or having existed at the time of the historic event or person.
If a property has been altered, can it still be listed in the National Register?
Some alterations are acceptable. As long as the property still appears much as it did during the time it is considered significant. There are seven aspects of integrity used to determine whether or not a property retains its historic integrity necessary to be eligible for listing:
Location: has the property been moved from its historic location?
Design: has to overall appearance/layout been significantly altered?
Setting: is the area surrounding the property much as it was historically?
Materials: have much of the historic fabric been replaced with non-historic material?
Workmanship: is the care and craftsmanship of the historic period still evident?
Feeling: does the property provide a sense of the historic time period?
Association: does the property maintain a direct link with its recommended significance?
Who can nominate a property?
Anyone! Property owners, members the general public, local historical societies, public agencies, college professors and their students, special interest groups, or homeowner associations, just to name a few. You may also hire a professional consultant to complete the nomination form.
Please keep in mind that the nomination of private property requires the consent of a majority of its current property owners
How long does it take to get a property listed in the National Register?
This depends on a number of factors, primarily who is preparing the nomination, how much time they devote to its preparation and when the nomination preparation begins. It is possible to complete the process in six months, but most nominations take a year from beginning to official listing.
Will I have to open up my property to the public?
No, there is no requirement to allow for public viewing. Many private residences and buildings are listed in the National Register – your property rights are not infringed upon by the National Register listing.
Will listing my property have a negative impact on its value?
In most cases, no. A large number of studies have shown that properties with historic designation actually increase in value.
National Register of Historic Places Success Stories
Proudly standing 120-feet tall, the Oshkosh Water Tower has been an iconic landmark in Garden County since 1920. Like a lighthouse to the plains, its welcoming presence can be seen from miles away. In 2019, almost 100 years since its construction, the tower has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This designation recognizes the importance the tower has in the development of Oshkosh from a village to a prosperous community.
The tower is in excellent condition and is a classic example of a “tin-man” type elevated tower. These “tin-man” water towers were once standard across rural Nebraska communities, but are quickly disappearing as new technologies take hold. Even though the tower was retired as a water delivery system in 2018, the residents of Oshkosh banded together to save this landmark. According to the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but how much you are loved by others”—this is certainly true of Oshkosh’s very-own “tin-man.”