The National Register of Historic Places is a United States of America government organisation that was founded in 1966 under the National Historic Preservation Act and is the country's official list of places that are worth preserving. Currently there are over 76,000 properties listed, which include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects. Everything that's listed as historic in the National Park System and over 2,300 National Historic Landmarks which the Secretary of the Interior gave the designation and can be found in the National Register Information System.

According to the Register, listing a property with them helps preserve them by recognizing that the property is significant, makes it eligible for Federal tax benefits and assistance for historic preservation if there are available funds and gives it consideration in the planning of Federal and federally assisted projects.

For a property to be listed in the Register, it needs to be nominated by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) in the property's state, the Federal Preservation Officer (FPO) if the Federal government owns it or by the Tribal Preservation Officer (TPO) if the property is part of tribal lands. Anyone can prepare a form for nomination and then a review board makes a recommendation to the officer about the nomination. Local officials and property owners are notified while the property is being reviewed. If the owner or owners of a property don't wish it to be listed, the SHPO can forward the nomination to the National Park Service and let them make the decision. If there aren't objections and the SHPO decides it should be eligible, the National Park Service is then given the final vote on the property's status. The process takes at least 90 days for the SHPO's review and up to 45 days for the National Park Service's review.

Criteria For Listing (From the National Register's Web Site):

Criteria for Evaluation:
The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:

  1. at are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
  2. at are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  3. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
  4. That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
Criteria Considerations
Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:
  1. A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or
  2. A building or structure removed from its original location but which is primarily significant for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or
  3. A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no appropriate site or building directly associated with his or her productive life; or
  4. A cemetery which derives its primary importance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or
  5. A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or
  6. A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or
  7. A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

Sources:
National Register of Historic Places. NRHP/NPS. 02 May 2003 <http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/index.htm>.