Presentation about the Gwynn's Island Historic District at the Gwynn's Island Civic League Meeting of March 5, 2020 featuring Dr. David Brown of the Fairfield Foundation and members of Preservation Mathews, Inc.
What Does Listing a Property or Historic District in the Virginia Landmark Registy or National Register of Historic Places Mean?
Listing in the Registers:
Is strictly honorary;
Officially recognizes the historic significance of a place, building, site, or area;
Encourages but does not require preservation of the property or historic district;
Offers limited protections to properties from potentially harmful federally- or state-funded activities;
May qualify owners for voluntary state and federal rehabilitation tax credit programs and DHR’s easement program
Listing in the Registers Does Not --
Prevent an owner from renovating or demolishing buildings;
Require an owner to restore or renovate property;
Restrict an owner’s use of the property;
Increase property values or taxes;
Regulate local governments or require creation of a local historic preservation program
Local governments have the authority to create historic preservation ordinances and historic district overlays; these and other such efforts arelocally controlled, do not involve DHR, and arenotpart of the Register process
Historic Registers Frequently Asked Questions What are the benefits of registration? Registration is an honor bestowed on historic properties by the state and federal governments. It recognizes the historic value of a property and encourages present and future owners to continue to exercise good stewardship. Owners of registered properties may donate historic preservation easements (which can reduce real estate taxes), qualify for the state and federal historic rehabilitationtax credits, receive technical assistance from department staff for maintenance and rehabilitation projects, and purchase plaques that mark the property’s significance.
Will anyone be able to stop me if I want to alter or tear down my property once it’s registered? Not as a result of registration. Property owners who donate historic preservation easements, participate in the federal or state tax credit programs, or accept a federal grant must abide by certain restrictions on alterations or demolitions associated with those programs. Otherwise, only local building codes and permit requirements must be satisfied, as with any property.
Do I have to open my property to the public if it is registered? No. Listing in the National Register of Historic Places or the Virginia Landmarks Register does not require that you open your house to the public.
Can a property be nominated individually if it is within a district? Yes. However, property owners in districts already can receive the same benefits as owners of individually listed properties. In other words, if a property is listed as a contributing structure within the district, it is already “just as registered” as if it were listed individually.
Isn’t it true that only sites associated with famous people or events get registered? No. The Register criteria apply to places of local as well as of national or statewide significance. Many places are listed in the registers because they exemplify themes or architectural styles important in local history.
If my property is listed in the national or state registers, will it be protected from undesirable development or destruction by government projects? Not necessarily. Only easements protect property in perpetuity. Registration informs owners, local planners, government agencies, and others involved in land-use planning of the existence of a historic resource. Neither the National Historic Preservation Act nor the Code of Virginia, however, requires property owners, developers, or government agencies to avoid affecting or destroying historic resources. The National Historic Preservation Act does require, however, that federal agencies take historic properties into account when planning projects. In many cases, state and federal agencies work around the historic property or mitigate the effects of a project on the property. However, in most cases, the federal or state project usually proceeds even if it affects or destroys the resource. In some instances, the force of public opinion has persuaded developers or government agencies to spare a registered property.