What is the process for listing a property on the National Register of Historic Places?
The Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) assists property owners and governments with identifying and listing properties on the National Register of Historic Places.
What are the general guidelines for getting a property listed on the National Register?
For more information on guidelines for the National Register of Historic Places and to download the essential documents you will need to complete a nomination, click here.
What is the Oregon Special Assessment program?
Oregon’s Special Assessment of Historic Property program was established in 1975 as the first state-level historic preservation tax incentive in the United States. Under the guidelines of the program, property owners can receive a 15 year ‘freeze” on their property taxes. For maximum benefit, the property owner should not begin any rehabilitation efforts until they have applied to be part of the program. The basic guidelines for the program are as follows:
The property must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, either as an individual property or as a contributing property in a historic district.
What other tax incentives are available for historic properties?
The federal government offers a tax credit program for income producing historic buildings. This program is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service, which has the final approval for a project’s eligibility. The basics of the federal tax credit program are as follows:
More information on the federal tax credit program can be found here or by calling the Oregon SHPO at 503-986-0688.
How do I find out about the history of my house?
There are numerous resources available to research the history of your house. Your property’s legal description, which is very useful for conducting research, can be obtained by searching county tax records. In Portland, you can often locate information on who built or who worked on your home by visiting the Bureau of Development Services Resource/Records counter at 1900 SW 4th Avenue. Additional information on previous residents of your home can be found by perusing city directories at your local library or at the Oregon Historical Society. Newspaper indexes, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, and local archives may also hold information on your home or neighborhood. To learn more about researching your home’s history, consider attending a How to Research House History program at the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC). This program is repeated frequently as part of the AHC’s “core curriculum.” For more information on this and other upcoming programs at the AHC click here
What Style is my House?
Determining the architectural style of your house can be a challenging yet highly educational experience. Once you know the style of your home you can better understand how it fits within the context of your city or neighborhood’s history. Information on house styles can be found by consulting books such as Virginia & Lee McAlester’s A Field Guide to American Houses, by researching local records at your library or historical society, or by attending a What Style is My House? Program at the Architectural Heritage Center (AHC). This program is repeated frequently as part of the AHC’s “core curriculum.” For more information on this and other upcoming programs at the AHC click here.
What paint colors are appropriate for my historic home?
Historic houses and neighborhoods benefit from the use of colors used when a house was first constructed. Understanding the architectural style and the era in which your home was built, helps to more easily identify appropriate color options. If you live in a historic district, consult with your neighbors to see if there are any established paint color guidelines for the district. If you know the style and era in which your home was constructed you can do research at your local library for books on your particular architectural style. Robert Schweitzer’s Bungalow Colors is but one example. Magazines, like Sunset or House Beautiful, from the period in which your home was constructed, can also be a good resource for not only paint colors but decorating tips as well. If you want to know your home’s original color scheme you can try to carefully scrape away the layers of paint from your siding (if original), trim, doors, window sashes or other architectural details that have been painted. Once removed you may be able to find the original layer of color you seek, or if you insist on complete authenticity, you can have your paint samples analyzed at a laboratory.
A very basic “primer” for historic paint colors based on house styles common to the Pacific Northwest
The vast majority of historic homes in the Pacific Northwest were built between the second half of the nineteenth century and the first few decades of the twentieth century. Here are some basic guidelines for paint colors based upon the common house styles from this period.
Where can I learn more about hardware or other materials appropriate to my historic home?
Magazines like Traditional Building or Old-House Journal can provide valuable insight into the hardware, fixtures, or other materials appropriate to your historic home. Today there are manufacturers and retailers across the country that reproduce historic hardware and lighting or sell salvaged historic materials. Other sources include house or architectural magazines from the era in which your home was constructed (check your local library for vintage issues of Sunset or House Beautiful). The Architectural Heritage Center (AHC) can also be a significant resource. In our Liz’s Antique Hardware Gallery, there are revolving exhibits displaying historic hardware from the Bosco Milligan collections.
Can historic preservation also be “green”?
In many ways historic preservation has always been a “green” movement. Preserving a historic building is the ultimate in sustainability as it saves an enormous amount of energy and precious resources that are otherwise lost through demolition or neglect. The Architectural Heritage Center and the Bosco Milligan Foundation support the notion that we cannot build our way out of our environmental problems. By re-using what we already have we will help save not only physical structures, we will lessen the impact on our environment, while helping to sustain our economy and our culture for future generations to enjoy. To learn more about historic preservation and sustainability, click here.
Will replacing my original wood windows save money on energy?
We don't recommend it. Only 15% of a home's heat loss is through the windows - most is through the walls and roof. So it would take many years to recoup the money spent on replacement windows. And your original windows are an integral part of the historic character of your house. Click here for a tip sheet in PDF format from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.