FAQ About Historic Preservation

  • A historic or cultural resource is typically at least fifty years old.
  • Resources of less than fifty years may qualify if they can be shown to have exceptional significance.
  • A historic or cultural resource can be a building, structure (bridge, water tower), object (fountain, sculpture), site (battlefield, cemetery), district (a group of related resources), feature (clock tower), or landscape (open space, historic ranch, park) that is significant in history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or cultural at the local, state or national level.
  • A historic resource should retain a high degree of integrity that is comprised of seven qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.

  • Listing on a register of historic sites serves to recognize a cultural resource that is important to the community and our overall history.
  • Listing on a register may expand the possibilities of grant funding for restoration or rehabilitation.
  • A private landowner can still do anything they wish with a historic property, as long as they have not accepted state historic or federal funds for a project that may impact the cultural resource.
  • Historic preservation laws are not meant to prevent change, rather they are meant to manage change. The tool to manage change is the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. These standards do not require that every element of a historic site remain intact; however, the most significant, or “character-defining” historic elements of a property should be retained. New additions to the historic property are allowed, but should be compatible with the site’s historic architecture. The standards encourage the repair of deteriorated historic features, but they allow for replacement when the deterioration leaves no other option.

  • Neither historic preservation in general, nor listing of a historic site or structure, takes away private property rights. A site cannot be listed on the State or National Register without the consent of the property owner. The requirements for owner consent for listing on a local register are set by the local/county ordinance or resolution.
  • A property owner retains their right to make changes, or even demolish a site, as long as the owner has not accepted state historic funds or federal funds for the project.

  • All communities and counties have historic resources that are important to their citizens. By being an active participant in historic preservation the county can help guide and support projects that protect those resources.
  • The Colorado State Historical Fund has provided grants to projects in all sixty-four Colorado counties. These funds are spent in the local community through materials and labor and often result in increased valuation of the property. These grant dollars are often leveraged many times over locally and bring significant economic benefits to the community.
  • Any project using federal funds, or requiring a federal permit or license, is required to consider resources eligible for the National Register, and potential impacts the project may have on those resources. Local governments can decide whether to participate in the review process or rely upon the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to conduct the review. Participation in the process is a proactive way for a county to help define how projects are carried out and may eliminate potential conflicts prior to the start of a project.
  • Communities or counties can pass their own historic preservation ordinances or resolutions. Some communities/counties have recommended review procedures, while others have mandatory review and compliance. Whether there are restrictions concerning historic resources is decided by the governing body.