NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. Properties listed on the National Register may be significant at the national, state, or local level. Historic districts, as defined by the National Register of Historic Places, are “geographically definable areas – urban or rural, large or small – possessing a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, and/or objects united by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development.”
Nominations to the National Register for properties in North Carolina require a full architectural survey of the property or district with photographs and database records held by the State Historic Preservation Office.
REHABILITATION TAX CREDITS
As early as 1976, the federal government began to offer income tax credits for the certified rehabilitation of historic properties. To be eligible for the 20% tax credit, properties must be individually listed on the National Register or be noted as contributing structures to a National Register Historic District to be eligible and must be commercial (or income-producing) properties. Additionally, the rehabilitation work must be reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. To this 20% federal credit, many states (including North Carolina and Virginia) have added a 15-20% state income tax credit.
Additionally, North Carolina offers a 15% income tax credit for the certified rehabilitation of private residences in the state. Like the federal program, eligible properties must be listed individually on the National Register or be noted as a contributing structure in a National Register Historic District and rehabilitation work must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.
Application materials for both the federal and state programs include photographs and floor plans of the existing building, architectural drawings of the proposed renovations, descriptions of the proposed work, materials specifications, cost estimates, and, upon completion of the work, final photographs of the property.
Municipalities may undertake architectural surveys for any number of reasons including as part of the National Register of Historic Places process, to prepare educational or promotional materials, and to aid in comprehensive planning. Surveys may be cursory with a focus on locating and identifying resources through map coding or may be comprehensive with full documentation done of each resource.
Municipalities designate Local Historic Landmarks and Local Historic Districts as a way of preserving the special character and qualities of their communities. Physical changes to designated Local Historic Districts and Landmarks are regulated by a Historic Preservation Commission who measure proposed changes against a set of Design Standards that outline appropriate treatments and changes to historic properties. Design Standards are tailored to the specific district or community in which they are used and provide property owners with guidance and preservation best practices as well as listing the specific guidelines against which proposed changes are reviewed.