About the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's list of cultural resources considered worthy of preservation. In Tennessee, the staff of the Tennessee Historical Commission administers this program in coordination with the National Park Service.
There are over 2000 entries in the National Register from Tennessee. Every county in the state has at least one entry. Types of properties listed in Tennessee include homes, businesses, schools, bridges, cemeteries, churches, boats, archaeological sites, and historic districts with many properties. Listed properties have importance in history, architecture, or archaeology. Benefits of listing may be found here.
- Property evaluation:
THC National Register staff will first evaluate whether a property appears to meet the requirements for listing. Interested people should complete an Information Packet. This packet will provide THC staff with information about the property’s history and how it has changed over time. The packet linked in this section is the current version used by our staff. The completed packet along with current photographs showing the entire property (landscape, all exterior sides of buildings, and all interior spaces) should be submitted to National Register staff. THC currently encourages digital submission due to COVID-19. Please contact National.Register@tn.gov with any questions on the Information Packet as well as the available digital submission options. THC staff can also provide the contact info for preservation planners throughout the state who may be able to assist with the packet.
National Register staff will use the packet to evaluate whether the property appears to meet National Register requirements.
Properties that are found to be eligible for listing can proceed to Step 2.
- Preparation of a National Register nomination:
The next step is to prepare a formal National Register nomination. THC National Register staff will provide the current nomination form, instructions, and example nominations. Regional preservation planners may be able to assist with nomination preparation.
The completed nomination form and photographs should be returned to National Register staff. Staff will review the nomination and provide comments for revisions. Most drafts go through at least a few rounds of revision. Once complete, the nomination will be scheduled for the next possible State Review Board Meeting.
- Review by the Tennessee State Review Board:
The Tennessee State Review Board meets three times a year to review nominations. They generally meet in January, May, and September. The board is comprised of professionals in architecture, history, and archaeology. The board will review each completed nomination and vote on whether to approve the nomination.
- Submission to the National Park Service:
THC National Register staff submit approved nominations to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service has final say on whether a property is listed, rejected, or returned to THC for revisions.
When properties are successfully listed, property owners will receive a notification from the THC. Owners may choose to celebrate the listing with a plaque. The Tennessee Historical Commission does not endorse, authorize, recommend, or have any preference for one company over another. We provide the list for your convenience. You are not required to purchase a plaque.
Have you ever wondered what a bird's eye view of Tennessee's National Register-listed properties looks like?
Check out our Tennessee Historical Commission Viewer now to see for yourself!
You can now view National Register-listed properties on our Viewer, either by searching for a specific address or simply exploring the Viewer using the pan feature. National Register-listed properties are identified by purple triangles and polygons. Every public listing has a triangle. Some also have a polygon identifying the National Register boundaries. To view a listing, select the Identify button and then click on one of the purple triangles. To view the National Register documentation, you can search the listing name in NARA's online database or contact THC National Register Staff.
The process of mapping is on-going, and additional polygons will periodically be added to the viewer. The viewer does not include points for restricted nominations, like archeological sites. Historic districts do not have a triangle for every included building, so check surrounding points to see if a property may be included in a district. If you do not see a particular site or point, please let our National Register staff know and we will be more than happy to clarify any questions you have.
We encourage you to explore our many National Register-listed properties, and we are excited about what you may find in your own community!
All National Register inquiries and information packets should be emailed to National.Register@tn.gov.
NEW: Most of Tennessee’s National Register nominations are now available from the National Archives (NARA). The NARA versions usually have correspondence and maps available, where those on the National Register site do not. Most nominations submitted before 2015 are available. Any copies not on either of these sites can be obtained from our office.