What Makes a Property Considered a Historic?

(3-min read)

In the demolition industry, there can be a fine line between “out with the old, in with the new” and potentially damaging historical structures in a city or other areas. But what actually makes a home, a commercial building, or a monument “historic”? Let’s take a look at some of the standards put in place by historic preservation organizations.

The Age of the Structure

This is probably the biggest “no duh” of this piece, but it certainly bears mentioning. For many historic preservation organizations, a property needs to be at least 50 years old to considered being appropriated aged for historical reasons. This age typically means that the property has served multiple generations and been a staple of the character of a specific community or area. 

The Integrity of a Property

Just because a structure or property is old doesn’t make it necessarily “historic.” If the structural integrity of a property is called into question, this may make the property more of a liability than it is worth. Another attribute of integrity is how much the property’s appearance has been changed from its original style through updates and renovations. If a property no longer retains its signature style, characteristics, or classic charm, it is all but unrecognizable as a historic site.

The Significance of the Property

For argument’s sake, let’s say that someone purchased a piece of land for development. After purchase, they discover a shed dating back to the early 1900s. This shed had been almost entirely undisturbed, containing time-specific tools, and even personal belongings of its once-owner. Could the age and integrity make it considered “historic” and keep the developer from moving forward with development? Not likely. Why? While the shed is undoubtedly interesting, it likely has little significance to the history of the community in which it sits. A historic property would need to had helped craft the unique identity of where it sets. Some community members would also need to be able to claim some kind of connection to a historic property to make it thus.

The Land

In some instances, a property can be considered historic and possibly protected from demolition due to where it is located. Before any structure is demolished, the proper authorities should be consulted to ensure that no legal restrictions are in place concerning the land and its contents.

Conclusion

Just because something is old and has maintained its integrity does not necessarily make it historic. That being said, all older structures should be assessed for historic importance before they are demolished. When that time comes, a demolition company with experience in handling potentially hazardous materials should be consulted.