skip to content
Primary navigation

Criteria for Evaluation

To be eligible for listing in the National Register, a property is typically at least 50 years of age and possess significance in American history and culture, architecture, or archaeology. A property of potential significance must meet one or more of four established criteria:

  • (a) that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
  • (b) that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  • (c) that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
  • (d) that have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.


Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its significance. To be listed in the National Register, a property must not only be shown to be significant under the criteria, but it also must have integrity. The evaluation of integrity is grounded in an understanding of a property's physical features and how they relate to its significance.

To retain historic integrity a property will always possess several, and usually most, of the aspects. The retention of specific aspects of integrity is paramount for a property to convey its significance. Determining which of these aspects are most important to a particular property requires knowing why, where, and when the property is significant. The seven aspects of integrity are defined as follows:

  • Location is the place where the historic property was constructed or the place where the historic event occurred.
  • Design is the combination of elements that create the form, plan, space, structure, and style of a property.
  • Setting is the physical environment of a historic property.
  • Materials are the physical elements that were combined or deposited during a particular period of time and in a particular pattern or configuration to form a historic property.
  • Workmanship is the physical evidence of the crafts of a particular culture or people during any given period in history or prehistory.
  • Feeling is a property's expression of the aesthetic or historic sense of a particular period of time.
  • Association is the direct link between an important historic event or person and a historic property.

Criteria Considerations

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, or graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

  • (a) a religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or
  • (b) a building or structure removed from its original location but which is significant primarily for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or
  • (c) a birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no other appropriate site or building directly associated with their productive life; or
  • (d) a cemetery which derives its primary significance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or
  • (e) a reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
  • (f) a property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition or symbolic value has invested it with its own historical significance; or
  • (g) a property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.
back to top