National Register of Historic Places

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.

 

Image of the Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff

Photo: The Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff

Financially, your property is now potentially eligible for federal and historic tax credits that apply to rehabilitation projects. Beyond dollars and cents, your property is recognized as a significant piece of local, state, or national history, promoting community pride and a local identity– something money can’t buy. Finally, effects on historic properties are taken into consideration during the planning of state and/or federally assisted projects.

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. 

Eligible properties are typically at least 50 years old and have either a historic or architectural significance. Generally, age is not the only thing we consider when determining significance. A property must have both cultural/historical significance and integrity to be eligible for listing. As part of the nomination process, you will need to establish why the property has a historical/architectural significance.

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.

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?
  • Fill out and submit a Preliminary Evaluation Form
    • History Nebraska staff will review and contact you regarding the eligibility of your property
  • If eligible, the preparation of a National Register of Historic Places nomination form can begin
  • History Nebraska is here to help you prepare your nomination
    • Provide professional guidance on the historical and architectural aspects of the property
    • Verify the nomination is properly documented to demonstrate its significance
    • Ensure that it is prepared properly and meets the National Park Service requirements.
  • Nominations are presented to the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Board
    • The Board meets three times per year: January, May, and September
    • Properties within a Certified Local Government (CLG) will need to be presented to the CLG’s Historic Preservation Commission before going before the State Board
  • Nominations approved by the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Board are then forwarded to the National Park Service for final review and listing in the National Register

Anyone! Property owners, members the general public, local historical societies, public agencies, college professors and their students, special interest groups, homeowner associations, or, 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

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.

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.

In most cases, no. A large number of studies have shown that properties with historic designation actually increase in value.

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.”

David Calease

National Register of Historic Places Coordinator

david.calease@nebraska.gov

402-471-4775

Become a History Nebraska Member Today

Learn More