Frequently Asked Questions


What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historically significant buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts that are considered worthy of preservation by the Secretary of the Interior. The National Register is part of a nation-wide program that supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archaeological resources. The register is maintained by the National Park Service and administered by the Washington State Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP). A Governor appointed advisory body, known as the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, aids the OAHP staff.

What is a National Register Historic District?

A National Register Historic District is an area or neighborhood that has a concentration of buildings, sites, and/or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development. Districts represent an important aspect in history locally, regionally, or nationally.

How does a Historic District get listed in the National Register of Historic Places?

The first step in creating a Historic District is to complete an extensive survey of the area. In-depth research is conducted to determine building dates, original occupants, and early uses of the property. The survey is then evaluated to determine the District’s boundaries. This material is compiled on a National Register nomination form that also describes the overall history of the area, details on individual resources, reasons why the area is significant, maps, and photographs. Once completed, the nomination is forwarded to the OAHP in Olympia, WA. The OAHP staff and the State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation then reviews the nomination. If the State Advisory Council approves the nomination and 51% of the property owners within the District boundaries concur with the listing, then the OAHP Officer signs the nomination and forwards it to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C. who makes the final determination. The entire process usually takes nine months to a year to complete.

Can I object to having my building listed as part of the Historic District?

In a Historic District, the majority of the property owners (51%) have to be in favor of the nomination for the District to be listed. Each property owner has the right to concur with or object to the listing. The OAHP will send an official letter to each property owner within the District thirty days before the State Advisory Council reviews the nomination. Concurrence or objections to the listing would be made during this time.

Are all individual properties within the District considered of equal significance?

No. Properties are classified within a Historic District according to their building date, physical integrity, and the period of significance. The period of significance for Pomeroy’s District is from 1887, the date of the earliest building to 1952, the last building erected that represents the post-W.W.II building boom. Each one of the properties within the District is assigned one of the following classifications:

Contributing: A property that retains and exhibits sufficient integrity (materials, designs, and setting) to convey a sense of history.

Historic Non-Contributing: A property which dates from the District’s historic period of significance but has been altered extensively and does not convey the sense of history in its present state. Properties in this category have the potential to be "upgraded" to contributing status if the incompatible alterations are reversed.

Non-Historic, Non-Contributing: A property built after the period of significance for the District and/or properties that do not retain sufficient historic integrity.

Vacant: A property on which no structures currently exist.

What are the benefits of listing a property or District on the National Register?

Federal and state financial incentives have been developed to encourage National Register property owners to preserve these significant historic resources. Less tangible benefits include neighborhood and community pride, economic development as a result of heritage tourism and a strong community foundation, and special recognition and attention. In the State of Washington, properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places or contributing properties in a Historic District can be considered for:

• The State’s Special Valuation program. The program allows rehabilitation costs (at least 25% of the assessed value prior to rehabilitation) to be subtracted from the assessed value of the property for a ten year period. Available to Certified Local Governments only;

• The Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITCs) program for income producing properties (20% tax credit);

• Review of planning projects that might impact historic properties or Districts that use federal funds, require federal licenses, and/or federally assisted projects;

• Waivers of certain normal building code requirements (UBC Section 3403.5) in the interest of preserving the integrity of the historic property.

• Federal matching grants for historic properties when funds are available (no funding currently available).

Will the District restrict my legal ownership of my property or my ability to sell it?

No. The District does not affect in any way the legal ownership or selling of the property.

Is a Historic District a taxing district?

No. A historic district is not a taxing district like a school or recreation district. A historic district might more appropriately be called a "historic" area or zone. The District does not have the power to levy taxes or assessments.

If I want to make exterior changes to my building within the District, will the alterations have to be reviewed by the State OAHP?

No. The property owners of National Register buildings are under no obligation to have the State or Federal government review alterations to their individual properties. If the property owner takes advantage of any State or Federal historic preservation tax incentive programs, the State and Federal agencies would review the planned project.

Will the City of Pomeroy review alterations to my historic property within the District?

Only if the Pomeroy Commercial National Register Historic District is designated locally in the City of Pomeroy Register of Historic Places. At that time, the Pomeroy Historic Preservation Commission would review major alterations according to the Historic Preservation Code of Pomeroy (Chapter 14.28). Maintenance work, such as repainting and repairing deteriorated features with like materials, are not subject for review. A majority of the property owners would have to concur with the local designation to list the National Register District in the City of Pomeroy Register of Historic Places.

Will property owners be required to rehabilitate their buildings?

No. There is no requirement that a building within a historic district be rehabilitated. Only property owners who choose to take advantage of State and Federal tax programs are required to rehabilitate their buildings.

Can I build on my vacant property within the District?

Yes. The District does not restrict use of the property. Only if the District is designated locally (a separate process), will new construction be reviewed by the Pomeroy Historic Preservation Commission.

For further information concerning the National Register of Historic Places contact Michael Houser, National and State Register Program Director, Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation (OAHP), Olympia, Washington at 360-586-3076.

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