The Survey and National Register Branch of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is a vital entity dedicated to the recognition, protection, and celebration of the state's rich architectural heritage. This branch plays a crucial role in identifying and preserving historically significant sites, buildings, and districts, ensuring that North Carolina's unique cultural and historical legacy is safeguarded for future generations.
At the core of its mission, the branch conducts comprehensive architectural surveys across the state. These surveys involve meticulous fieldwork, research, and documentation by seasoned professionals in the fields of historic preservation, architecture, and history. By meticulously cataloging a wide spectrum of structures and places, from urban landmarks to rural structures, the branch creates a comprehensive inventory that reflects North Carolina's diverse history and development.
An essential function of the branch is the evaluation of identified resources to determine their eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. Using established criteria that consider architectural significance, historical context, cultural value, and impact on the local environment, the branch assesses each resource's importance. Resources that meet the criteria are recommended for National Register listing, a prestigious designation that recognizes their contribution to the state's heritage.
Through its efforts, the branch helps communities realize the economic, educational, and cultural benefits of historic preservation. The National Register designation not only honors the past but also encourages heritage tourism, community revitalization, and a deeper understanding of North Carolina's history. Additionally, the branch's work empowers communities to make informed decisions about development and growth while respecting their historical identity.
By serving as a guardian of North Carolina's architectural heritage, the Architectural Surveys and National Register Branch contributes to a sense of pride, identity, and continuity. Its dedication to preserving and promoting the state's historic resources ensures that the stories embedded within its buildings, sites, and landscapes remain an enduring source of inspiration and education for generations to come.
For almost fifty years, the State Historic Preservation Office in the Office of Archives and History has conducted North Carolina's statewide architectural survey program. The Preservation Office sponsors and co-sponsors, assists and guides dozens of local and regional architectural surveys throughout the state--all part of the statewide program whose mission is to identify, record, and encourage the preservation of North Carolina's rich and varied historic and architectural heritage.
For each community and county, as for the state and nation as a whole, creating a photographic and written record of historic places is the first, crucial step in recognizing, valuing, and preserving the heritage of the past for the benefit of the present and the future. Each survey project provides a local base of information about community history and architecture. Ideally the surveyor and the survey serve as a prism--gathering information from many different residents and many different places, then reflecting that knowledge back to the community in a way that offers residents and others new understanding of the whole and its parts.
The National Register of Historic Places official list of buildings, sites, objects, and districts that warrant special preservation consideration in public planning. The National Register Coordinator and other staff edit and process an average of sixty National Register nominations annually, most of which are prepared by private consultants engaged by local governments, private institutions, or private property owners. North Carolina now has over 2,900 listings in the National Register, of which over 540 are historic districts that may encompass hundreds of historic buildings.
Staff participates in the Environmental Review program and reviews more than 3,000 state and federal undertakings annually to assess their impacts on historic resources and to initiate mitigation procedures when a public action affects historic properties.
North Carolina has over 100 Historic Preservation Commissions established by local governments under state-enabling legislation to designate and monitor historic properties locally. Staff assists the Preservation Commission Services/Certified Local Government Coordinator in helping local governments establish preservation commissions, advising commissions on operations and procedures required by law, reviewing local landmark and designation reports, and administering the state Certified Local Government.
All staff members respond to public inquiries concerning historic properties in North Carolina and several offer lectures on historic preservation and architectural history topics.