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CJ Coombs

Every county in Missouri has a place of historical value listed on the National Register of Historic Places

A typical plaque found on properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.Jonathunder, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The National Register of Historic Places

There is a list of our country's historic places that are worth preserving and these places are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These "places" aren't limited to buildings.

It's all part of a program arising from the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The National Register is affiliated with the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The more than 96,000 properties listed (as of the end of 2020) in the National Register represent 1.8 million contributing resources - buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects. (Source.)

There are places in the state where you live that you might even know are historical. They could already be included in the National Register. I continue to be amazed at how many places in my state are on the list.

In addition to districts and individual properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Missouri is rich in locally designated historic districts. Some of the historic districts in Kansas City and St. Louis have been certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior as substantially meeting National Register criteria. (Source.)

How you can be involved

If you see a building or know of a structure or district where you live worthy of preservation, contact your state's Historic Preservation Office. Click here to see where your state office is. A State Historic Preservation Officer can help you with particular criteria that are required for whether a building or district can or should be listed. Your state officer can explain to you how the process works in your state to get a property nominated for inclusion on the register.

It's always a history lesson

You might be amazed that a building next to where your work is on the National Register or a house down the street. For example, if you live in Missouri, you can go to the Missouri State Parks website and view the list of counties on the Missouri National Register Listings.

When you click on a county's name, you'll land on a page that lists all the properties that are on the National Register and parenthetically when they were added to the register. Also, there will be a .pdf of the Nomination Form that provided all the necessary information and details fulfilling the criteria for inclusion. You'll find a lot of historical information associated with each subject that is nominated.

Usually, a building has to be older than 50 years and in a lot of cases, they are older than 100 years.

The list below includes the categories of what can be found on the National Register:

  • Buildings (this could be a house, office building, or even a barn)
  • Structures (an example would be a bridge)
  • Objects (examples include a sculpture or monument)
  • Sites (location of a historic or prehistoric event that was significant)
  • Historic districts (where multiple types of categories can be found with a common historical significance)

Properties that are associated with significant people in history are often included if they meet the criteria. Sometimes, too, a listed property might be removed after being previously listed if it is later demolished.

Why is this so important?

You might be wondering why the preservation of historic buildings is so important. Windows into the past help tell stories of history to pass forward.

An important part of what gives a city character and a sense of community is its history. One way of acknowledging this history is by preserving historic buildings and structures. (Source.)

The culture and heritage of your city can be studied in the objects that are preserved. Some areas designated as living museums bring economic value to the city housing those areas through tourism. It's also more interesting to note the detailed architectural designs and styles of the older buildings. Some people also like to see old buildings restored instead of tearing them down.

The importance of recycling has become more and more understood on a household level, but preserving old buildings is recycling on a larger scale. Repairing and reusing existing buildings uses energy and material resources more efficiently and reduces waste. (Source.)

If we preserve history, we learn more about the past which will enable us to pass on those stories and history lessons to future generations, plus it's interesting.

Thank you for reading. Keep history alive.

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