You Mean I CAN Tear Down My House That’s Listed on the National Register?


Recently, I took part in a meeting with the Kentucky Heritage Council, during which we discussed the National Register of Historic Places and its affect on homeowners.  It goes without saying that there is much confusion surrounding the National Register — what it means, and what it doesn’t — thus, this post.  I hope the information you read is helpful.

By the way…

Did you know that Kentucky ranks 4th in the Nation for number of Historic Properties?

So now that your mind has been completely blown (right?!), let’s get into the details, starting first with the benefits to being listed on the Register.


Benefits to a National Register Listing

1.  Planning:  The National Register helps project planners know which properties are most valuable to a community, so projects can be designed with minimal impact on those properties.  It helps developers identify which parts of a building or property are most important to a community’s identity and sense of value.  It helps homeowners considering changes to their property know which parts of their property most vitally define that home’s value.

2.  Economic:  A National Register listing provides the opportunity for owners to receive back a portion of their rehab costs.  There are too many regulations to list here, but credits can range
from 20% – 40% of the rehab costs.

4.  Education:  National Register listing often provides the most thorough record and history on a property.  The listing explains how the property is significant to the locality, state, or nation.  The listing also tells how the physical character of the property reveals our significant past.

5.  Honor:  Many owners feel additional pride in their property with the listing on the National Register.


What a National Register Listing Means…or Doesn’t.

· Owners’ property rights do NOT change when the property is listed on the Register.

· Owners are NOT responsible to maintain their listed house in a historic condition.

· Owners do NOT have to open their house to the public.

· Owners do NOT have to seek the advice of the Kentucky Heritage Council in planning changes.

· Listing does NOT prohibit owners from making changes to their National Register-listed building.

· Owners are NOT prohibited from demolishing their National Register-listed building.

· Listing a property does NOT reduce the current or a subsequent owner’s development options.

· Listing on the Register currently does NOT result in grants to private owners to fix their building.

· Listing does NOT increase or decrease property taxes, nor affect the property’s assessed value.

·Listing does NOT require any governmental agency to maintain or preserve the property.

· Listing in the Register does NOT prevent a city, county, state, or the federal government from ultimately purchasing the property through eminent domain.

· A property, once listed, can NOT be removed from the Register simply by owner request.  Properties can only be removed by a petition made by the State Preservation Office, citing one of four reasons:  Loss of the historic integrity, error in professional judgment, procedural error, or new information.


How to Qualify as Historic

There are many steps to getting your property listed on the National Register, but to begin, here are three must-haves:

1.  The property must be at least 50 years old.

2.  The property must be significant / important to the city/state/nation.

3.  The property must have material integrity  – that is, enough of its material aspects must be intact.


So there you have it.  Please remember that this information is for the National Historic Register, and local preservation societies may add restrictions to what is already in place, so please make sure and contact your local society/office before making any major decisions. 


For more information, visit:

National Register of Historic Places FAQ 

Kentucky Heritage Council 

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