Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

Historic Designations

Historic Designations

The National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is an inventory of buildings, structures, sites, areas, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology and culture that is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS).   It is the official list of the nation's cultural and historic properties and includes sites in the National Park System, National Historic Landmarks and properties of national, state and local significance.

Listing a property or district on the National Register does not restrict the rights of the private property owner in the use, development or sale of their property. Designation does not mean that the government wants to acquire the property, place restrictions on the land, or dictate the color or materials used on the building. Many people confuse National Register Districts with Local Historic Districts, but they are two distinct designations with very different regulations. The National Register Designation is more of an honorific recognition where as a Local Historic District/Property Designation is much more restrictive in terms of what can be done to a property. These two types of designation are commonly confused. 

Not sure if your property is listed on the National Register?  Look it up on the National Park Service's website.

Not sure if your property is listed in a National Register District? Look it up here: National Park Service National Register Districts

The State Register of Historic Places

The State Register of Historic Places is an official listing of properties and sites important to the historical development of Connecticut.

The State Historic Preservation Office is the responsible state organization for preparing, adopting and maintaining standards for the State Register of Historic Places. The Office of Historic Preservation shall nominate potential historic structures and landmarks and if determined eligible the State Historic Preservation Office will designate and list the property on the State Register of Historic Places.

The benefits of listing a property on the State Register of Historic Places include identifying a community's historically significant buildings, structures and districts and encouraging their preservation. Local and state agencies can identify and take into consideration these important historic properties when planning projects and if state-funded or assisted projects affect listed properties, then review by the SHPO is required. Some owners of listed properties may be eligible for state restoration funds and listing  will provide for special consideration under the State Building and Fire Codes, the American with Disabilities Act.

It should be noted that listing on the State Register of Historic Places does not restrict the rights of private property owners or automatically leads to historic district zoning. Frequently National Register and State Register Historic Districts are confused with a Local Historic District. These are very different types of designations. A National Register or State Register listing is more of a honorary recognition with relatively few limitations, while a Local Historic District designation is much more restrictive in terms of alterations to significant historic properties and is regulated by a Local Historic District Commission.

 To see a 1974 inventory completed by the State Historic Preservation Office go here>>> Table of Contents and Introduction here >>> All properties included in this inventory are listed on the State Register of Historic Places. Please note that this list is only one portion of the State Register. Contact the State Historic Preservation Office by phone at:  860-256-2800 to find out more about the State Register.

Is your property on the State Register?  Inquiries should be addressed to staff at the State Historic Preservation Office.

Local Historic Districts

Local Historic Districts are not to be confused with National Register Districts, although both are automatically listed on the State Register of Historic Places.

A National Register Historic District is established through the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service and is a formal recognition of an area that historically, architecturally or culturally significant. Alterations to a property listed in a National Register District only require review when there is state or federal involvement. A Local Historic District (LHD) offers much more protection and involvement from the community. A LHD is established and administered by the community itself to protect the distinctive and significant characteristics of an area and encourages changes and new designs that are compatible with the area's historic distinctiveness. 

To see if your property is in a local historic district, visit the Connecticut Trust's Local Historic Districts website.

Why establish an historic district? It has been demonstrated that the existence of a Local Historic District creates community pride, fosters neighborhood stabilization and enhances the appearance and historic character of the area. To read more about how local historic districts actually enhance property values, visit our Publications tab (top menu).


Historic American Buildings Survey & Historic American Engineering Record "Preservation through Documentation" The Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) is a federal government program that documents important architectural, engineering and industrial sites throughout the United States and its territories.  This archive of American architecture and engineering sites helps in better understanding what historic resources tell us about this country's diverse heritage.  Each documented site has a complete set of measured drawings, photographs, and written history.  Over 36,000 structures have been documented in the nation and in Connecticut almost 700 hundred structures have been surveyed by HABS/HAER from the Leffingwell Inn in Norwichtown to the road bridges that span the Merritt Parkway.  The National Park Service oversees the HABS/HAER program and the Library of Congress is the depository for the documentation.  For further information regarding the HABS/HAER program, please click the following link: HABS/HAER Collection