Our Mission

The mission of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission is to identify, preserve, protect, and promote Raleigh’s historic resources.

National Register Historic Districts

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.

The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, in partnership with state governments. At the state level, the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) administers the program and forwards nominations to the National Register on to the National Park Service, which makes the final decision to list a property or district in the National Register. Contact the SHPO for more information on National Register listing.

Facts about the National Register

  • Provides recognition that can contribute to preservation efforts.
  • Protects the district from harm caused by Federal or State funded or licensed projects.
  • Makes designated properties (for districts, this means those resources that are listed as "contributing") eligible to apply for state and federal tax credits.
  • Imposes no standards on maintenance or improvements except for standard city building codes.
  • Requires no permission for any alteration apart from standard City of Raleigh laws and regulations.
  • Does not limit owners' use or sale of property.
  • Does not increase property taxes.
  • Does not require permission to demolish a property that is privately owned.

The National Register of Historic Places and local historic landmark and historic district designations are two very different programs that recognize and protect historic properties. Some historic properties and districts may receive both types of designation in communities where local historic preservation commissions have been established according to North Carolina enabling legislation. However, there is no direct correlation between National Register listing and local designation.

Tax Credits

For a private owner, the chief practical benefit of National Register listing is eligibility for a 20% federal investment tax credit that can be claimed against the cost of a certified rehabilitation of an income-producing historic building. There is also a 20% "piggyback" North Carolina investment tax credit for income-producing historic properties, and a 30% state credit for non-income-producing historic properties. For tax credit applications and instructions, owners of National Register properties may contact the SHPO.


What is a Raleigh Historic District?

A Raleigh Historic District is a distinctive area, a place of singular historical flavor characterized by its streets and squares, buildings and trees, architectural design and landscape features. A Raleigh Historic District is established by the City Council after action has been proposed by a neighborhood organization, a preservation group, or the city, and after careful research and evaluation.

As of 2013, six areas have been designated as Raleigh Historic Districts: Blount Street, Boylan Heights, Capitol Square, Moore Square, Oakwood, and Prince Hall. These districts are legally established as an overlay zoning district under the city's Code of Ordinances (§10-2052). Historic district overlay zoning identifies a historic area and provides the mechanism of a design review process for exterior changes.

Facts about local designation

Property owners in a proposed historic district must be notified of the proposal so that they may appear and comment on it during the public hearings before the Planning Commission and the City Council (like any other re-zoning case in the city).

  • Provides city-level recognition.
  • Is designed to protect and enhance the existing character of a community.
  • Protects neighborhoods from unmanaged change by a review process based on established design guidelines adopted by the City Council.
  • Requires that owners of properties within the district obtain certificates of appropriateness from the RHDC before making exterior changes to their properties.
  • Does not affect the uses of properties as permitted by the existing zoning.
  • Remember, local designation is not the same as National Register designation: Although some properties may carry both types of designation, the National Register and local designation are totally separate programs with different requirements and benefits. Also, local commissions should not be confused with other local historical organizations such as historical societies or museum groups.

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