How to help get your Legion post home on the National Register of Historic Places

Posted On: Friday, 21 June 2024

Many buildings that American Legion Auxiliary units and American Legion posts call home have architectural or historical significance. And that could make them perfect candidates for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. 
Taking the steps to include these properties on the registry can be beneficial — not only for the Auxiliary members who gather there now, but also for The American Legion Family and the surrounding community in the years to come.
“People embrace their history if they know their history,” said Jim Gabbert, a National Park Service historian, in a 2015 video from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “I like to encourage people to list properties on the National Register. It’s an acknowledgement that this place is important, and it serves as a keystone for future planning and for fundraising.”
So, where should ALA units turn if they want to seek the inclusion of the buildings where they meet on the National Register of Historic Places? Here are answers to five key questions about the process:
1. What is the National Register of Historic Places?
The National Park Service manages the National Register of Historic Places program. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the program maintains the register as a list of historic buildings, sites, objects, and districts. Being on this list indicates that a place is worthy of preservation.
2. What are the criteria for places to be on the National Register?
When evaluating whether a property qualifies for this list of historic places, the National Park Service considers its:
• Age and integrity: Is the property old enough to be historic, generally at least 50 years? Is its appearance relatively unchanged from the past?
• Significance: Is it associated with happenings, people, or achievements that were impactful in the past? Could investigating the location uncover information 
about history?
3. What are the benefits of including a property on the National Register?
When a site is on the National Register, it can foster a sense of pride among its owners and those who use it. It can serve as a source of historical knowledge for students and others in the community. Inclusion on the list can also offer some tangible benefits:
• Eligibility for grants and tax credits: The National Park Service offers federal grant and tax credit programs for National Register of Historic Places owners who qualify.
• Protection against removal: In the event of a federal project — highway construction, for example — that would otherwise require its removal, a National Register designation can protect a place from destruction.
4. What is the process for pursuing National Register designation?
Unless the property is on federal or tribal land, the process for obtaining National Register status begins with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The National Register of Historic Places provides a webpage with links to each state’s SHPO:
After an individual or group reaches out to the SHPO, that office contacts any property owners who the designation could affect, notifies local officials, and solicits public comment. State reviewers consider suggested nominations, a process that typically takes at least 90 days. 
Then, once the National Park Service receives a nomination from the state, it decides on the proposed listing within 45 days.
5. What are other resources that provide information and assist with the application process?
A variety of webpages can be helpful for exploring the ins and outs of nominating a property for the National Register of Historic Places. Two of those sites, from the National Park Service:
• How to List a Property ( — Describes the nominating process for National Register listings. It also provides details about regulations that govern federally designated historic places, locations for ordering a plaque for the honor, and the process for nominating properties on federal or tribal land.
• FAQs ( answers questions on topics ranging from how to determine whether a property is already on the National Register to what steps to take to apply for tax credits.

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.