What is the difference between a National Register of Historic Places and Connecticut’s State Registry?

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Image courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum

The best way to summarize the difference is that the National Register District identifies worthy properties and historic areas, and the local district protects them. Both National Register districts and locally designated historic districts or properties can be used as effective preservation tools, either independently or together, to help preserve a community’s historic resources.

Connecticut’s State Register includes districts; sites; buildings; structures and objects of national, state, or local significance. The term “resources” is used for all types of historically important property or places. They must possess integrity for their location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association and:

1. are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the history or the lives of persons significant in our past; or

2. that display the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction; or that represent the work of a master craftsman, that possess high artistic values, and that represents a significant entity; or

3. that have yielded, or might be likely to yield, information important in history.

As an example, the National Register program might be used as a convenient and credible way to identify a community’s historic resources, followed by local district designation, which would further protect and enhance those resources through the process of design review. Conversely, a local survey to establish a local historic district might also be used as the basis for a National Register district nomination, which would afford additional preservation incentives, including rehabilitation tax credits, to properties protected in the local district. Local district designation might also be used to selectively protect portions of National Register districts considered especially significant to a community or subject to particularly strong development pressures.

The local designation also might be afforded to an area larger than a National Register district to provide an even greater degree of protection to the historic resources within the National Register district. Some communities’ preservation needs may be met entirely with either a locally designated district or a National Register district; there are many examples in Connecticut of both situations. Other communities may believe that a package involving both types of districts works best. Remember: local districts and National Register districts are different, but complementary, and can work effectively by themselves or together to meet a community’s historic preservation needs.

The State Register DOES

• Identify historically significant buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts according to the State Register Criteria for Evaluation.

• Encourage the preservation of historic properties by documenting the significance of historic properties and by lending support to local preservation activities.

• Enable State and local agencies to consider historic properties in the early stages of planning projects.

• Provide for the review of State-funded or assisted projects which may affect historic properties.

• Make owners of historic properties eligible to apply for tax credits and non-profit or municipal owners eligible for restoration funds.

• Provide for special consideration under State Building and Fire Codes for historic properties.

• Provide for special consideration under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

• Provide for review under State Lead Poisoning law for historic properties requiring abatement.

The State Register DOES NOT

• Restrict the rights of private owners in the use or development of their privately owned historic property.

• Lead automatically to historic district designation

• Force Federal, State, local or private projects to be stopped.

• Provide for review of local or privately funded projects which may affect historic properties.

• Guarantee that grant funds will be available for all significant historic properties.

• Provide automatic tax benefits to owners of historic properties.

At this time only properties in the southern part of Connecticut have been listed on the SHPO (State Historic Preservation Offices) website. In order to find out which Granby properties have been listed on the State Register, a call to SHPO is required.

Besides the Frederick H. Cossitt Library, Granby currently has two historic districts, two private homes, and two buildings located on the grounds of the Salmon Brook Historical Society listed on the National Register. The historic districts include the West Granby District and the Granby Center District. The private residences are the Samuel Hayes House on Barndoor Hills Road and the Nathaniel Holcomb House on Bushy Hill Road.

Unfortunately, the Town of Granby has lost two very important properties recently—the Allen’s Cider Mill in North Granby Center and the Judah Holcomb House on North Granby Road.

The Allen’s Mill was built in 1783 and was listed on the National Register in 1992. At the time it was one of the last remaining cider mills in the State of Connecticut. It operated as a mill until 1857, during which time it was one of Connecticut’s largest cider brandy producers.

The Judah Holcomb House was built in 1776 and was one of the finest examples of late Georgian architecture in Connecticut. It was especially known for its elaborate entry surround and its wealth of interior woodwork. It was listed on the National Register in 1988. Judah Holcomb was Granby’s original First Selectman at the town’s founding in 1786. Before its demolition, due to fire, the Connecticut River Doorway was removed and is now preserved at Historic Deerfield, Mass.