Historic Designation

One of the ways to build appreciation and awareness of Modern design is to document these resources, assess their significance, and formally recognize their value through nomination and designation with the local, state, or national registers.

1. Steps to Preserving Modern Resources

a. Identification, research and documentation

In order to assess resources, we first identify buildings, sites, objects, landscapes, and neighborhoods within the appropriate geographic boundaries. Communities and neighborhoods are explored to identify significant resources.

Information about an identified resource is then gathered. This involves research at a variety of libraries, public records departments, historical societies, and other government archives. This research also frequently involves talking to people associated with the resource, such as current and former owners, neighbors, and the original architect or builder. Materials gathered might include historic photographs, original drawings, maps, published materials, etc. Photographs are also taken at this point to document the property.

Local governments and neighborhood groups often undertake larger scale survey and inventory projects to identify, research, and document specific parts of their communities and assess potential landmarks or historic districts.

b. Evaluation

The information gathered is then used to evaluate the significance of a resource. Not all Modern resources are significant. The criteria used to evaluate their significance may include:

A. Association with significant historic events that have contributed to the broad patterns of our history.

B. Association with the lives of historically significant persons.

C. Embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of: a type; period; method of construction; or that represent the work of a master; possess high artistic values; or represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.

D. Have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

c.Determination of eligibility

Properties are then determined eligible or ineligible for listing on a local, state and/or national register. For those that are deemed eligible for listing, a nomination may be prepared.

d.Nomination and designation (local, state, national)

In order to formally recognize the significance of a property, a nomination is written and submitted to the appropriate government entity (e.g. City Historic Preservation Commission and/or the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation). The nomination includes a significance statement which discusses the historic context of the property, its construction and use history, and the people (i.e. owner, architect, builder) associated with the property. The nomination also includes a detailed physical description of the property and any alterations made. The information gathered under Step 1 (research and documentation) is used for the nomination.

Anyone may submit a nomination form. Most local historic preservation programs require property owner consent, as do the Washington Heritage Register and National Register of Historic Places (the big exception being the City of Seattle). A nomination is then reviewed by the appropriate body which decides whether to designate the property and place it on a register.

e.Results of Listing

A property listed on a local register is offered protection (through local ordinance) from inappropriate alterations and demolition (most of the time). Listing on the Washington Heritage Register and National Register is honorary and does not offer legal protection unless the property is also listed on a local register.

There are also financial incentives offered to listed properties. Properties listed on a local register may be eligible for a tax incentive program called Special Valuation which rewards owners with property tax abatement for a ten-year period should they choose to make capital improvements on their property. Income producing properties undergoing rehabilitation and are listed on the National Register, or eligible for listing, are also eligible for the federal historic tax credit if work is performed according to the Secretary of the Interiorís Standards for Rehabilitation.

2. Building Surveys

Information from surveys, inventories, and nominations can be used to build a body of useful information which can then be used for educational purposes. Information is power and can be used to increase awareness, understanding, and appreciation of Modern design in our region.

3. Local and National Registers

For more information on surveys and inventories, the Washington Heritage Register, and the National Register of Historic Places, please visit the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation website, http://www.dahp.wa.gov Ľ
Property of MSCUA, Univ. of Washington Libraries

Image Courtesy of MOHAI, Seattle

Property of MSCUA, Univ. of Washington Libraries.

Property of MSCUA, Univ. of Washington Libraries.
Photo Coll 251

Property of MSCUA, Univ. of Washington Libraries.
Photo Coll 251