LHD and LHP designations are the strongest legal forms of historic preservation available to municipalities in Connecticut. Both mechanisms are implemented by a locally appointed municipal commission – the HDC or the HPC – that has the express authority to review and approve exterior changes to historic properties that are visible from a public way.

LHDs and LHPs are listed on the State Register of Historic Places. They also may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  However, only the local designation provides for regulatory review.  The State and National registers do not automatically ensure the preservation of historic properties, and they do not ordinarily restrict what can be done with the buildings or structures. 

Understanding the differences between the various preservation designations can help advocates of historic preservation decide which type of designation will most greatly benefit the community.

1.      National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's buildings, sites, and structures that have a high degree of physical integrity and a documented level of historical or architectural significance.  Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and administered by the Department of the Interior through the National Park Service, the National Register of Historic Places is a national program to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.  There are currently more than 80,000 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, representing 1.4 million individual buildings sites, structures, objects, and districts.

Properties may be nominated to the National Register either individually or as part of a National Register Historic District. Nominations are processed through the State Historic Preservation Office of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) using a standard format and must demonstrate that the particular resource has integrity of location, design, materials, setting, workmanship, feeling, and association.  In addition, the nominated property or resource must meet one or more of the specific National Register criteria at the local, state, or national level.

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places entails no obligations on the part of private property owners. There are no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.  The National Register does not require public access and does not automatically result in any local preservation designation.  Owners of National Register-listed properties may be eligible to apply for grants or tax credits through particular state and federal programs, subject to the availability of funding.

The National Register is used by state and federal agencies to evaluate the potential risk of adverse impact on historic properties that may result from federally or state-funded, licensed, or permitted projects.  In Connecticut, the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act (CEPA or Public Act 82-367, Section 22a-15 through 22a-19) also provides a mechanism through the Superior Court to prevent the “unreasonable destruction” of National Register-listed resources.

National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this highest distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff to nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks.

2.      State Register of Historic Places

 The State Register of Historic Places is the State of Connecticut’s official listing ofbuildings, sites, structures, and objects that are important to the historical development ofConnecticut.  The State Register uses criteria for listing that are similar to those of the National Register of Historic Places, except that special-case considerations (such as a fifty-year age requirement) are not applicable. The nomination process is administered by the CCT.

Properties are listed on the State Register by the Historic Preservation Council of the CCT following review and recommendation by staff of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  Since 1975, more than 50,000 properties owned by private citizens, organizations, municipalities, and the State of Connecticut have been listed on the State Register.

3.      Statewide Historic Resource Inventory

CCT also maintains a historic resource survey and inventory program that identifies and documents historic, architectural, archaeological, and industrial resources.  Collectively, these cultural resource surveys comprise the Statewide Historic Resource Inventory (SHRI),which is a useful tool for municipal officials, local planners, preservationists, property owners, and researchers. 

The SHRI has generated information, photographs, and maps for approximately 90,000 properties, and new ones are added to the inventory each year.  In addition to surveys organized geographically by individual town boundaries, statewide thematic surveys have been completed for bridges, industrial complexes, lighthouses, outdoor sculpture, railroad stations, synagogues, theaters, town greens, state-owned properties/campuses, and state parks.

The SHRI is a documentation project only.  Research and documentation are conducted using public sources and rights-of-way.  Inclusion of a property in the inventory does not place any restrictions on the ownership, use, or appearance of an historic building, site, structure, or object.  Inventoried properties are not automatically listed on the State or National registers.

4.      Local Historic District

A Local Historic District (LHD) consists of a contiguous area of buildings and structures that represents either a distinct period of significance in the community’s history or the evolution of the community over time. CGS, Section 7-147b defines the historic district as “an area, or a cluster of related buildings, or objects and structures, in a compatible setting which, taken as a whole, visually expresses styles and modes of living representative of various periods in American History.” In general, an LHD is an area with clear boundaries enclosing a contiguous set of historically or architecturally significant structures that are related through proximity, ownership, history or use and that together tend to visually represent the community’s heritage.

The LHD is different from a National Register or State Register historic district in that it provides for the local review of any exterior work that is visible from a public street, place or way.  Properties within the LHD are subject to review, regardless of the age or condition of the specific building or structure.  There are exceptions which include properties owned by higher education institutions and state owned properties.  (see xxx for a complete list – this information needs to be supplied -- DRM)

5.      Local Historic Property

Local Historic Property (LHP) consists of a single building or site that represents important historical events, trends, and architectural styles in the community.

CGS, Section 7-147p defines the historic property as “any individual building, structure, object or site that is significant in the history, architecture, archaeology and culture of the state, its political subdivisions or the nation and the real property used in connection therewith.”

The LHP designation is suited to important historic, architectural, or archaeological resources that are isolated or widely separated from related sites, but whose preservation and appearance are important to the sense of the community’s heritage.