KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While it may seem normal to hear about structures or properties on the National Register of Historic Places, what that means and the process required to join that list are less common knowledge.
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the United States’ historic places that are worthy of preservation, according to the National Park Service. The register was authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
A number of places in East Tennessee are listed in the register ranging from homes, schools, farms, mills, churches, cemeteries and more. 523 E. Oklahoma Avenue is a contributing structure of the Old North Knoxville Historic District, which was added to the register on May 14, 1992.
The home on Oklahoma Avenue is being restored by investors Sean Bolen and Alison Hardy through the City of Knoxville’s Homemakers Program. The home was built around 1890 by the Baumann Brothers, although the registration form for the National Register of Historic Places said the home was reportedly designed by George Barber. Perry Childress, who has a background as a historic preservation specialist, discovered the entry for the home on that registration form and shared the information with Bolen.
When considering a property for the register, the NPS says the property’s age, significance and integrity are considered along with some criteria. Typically, properties are at least 50 years old and look much like they did in the past, the NPS says.
For a property or historic district to join the register, the NPS says it must be nominated to the State Historic Preservation Office, which in Tennessee is the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC).
The process begins with a property evaluation by THC National register staff to ensure that the property appears to meet requirements for listing. THC says anyone interested in listing a property should complete an information packet, which should be submitted to National Register Staff with photos of the entire property by email or mail. the NPS says the length of this process varies by state, but it takes a minimum of 90 days.
After this, THC says the National Register nomination must be prepared and returned to the THC National Register staff. The staff review the material and provide comments for revision to prepare it to reviewed by the Tennessee State Review Board, which meets three times per year, THC said.
The state review board is comprised of professionals in the archeology, history, and architecture fields. THC says the board generally meets in January, May, and September, and reviews and votes on each completed nomination.
If the nomination is approved by the state board, THC National Register staff then submit it to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. From there, THC says NPS has the final say on if a property is listed, rejected, or returned to THC for revisions. According to the NPS, they make listing decisions within 45 days.
Before nominating a property to join the National Register of Historic Places, the NPS says applicants should check if the property is already on the register. THC and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation provides an online viewer of all properties and historic districts in Tennessee as well.