Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Project Documentation

Project Documentation

To review a project, the SHPO must understand the existing conditions and proposed work in order to offer recommendations and assistance. Therefore, project submittals should contain adequate and clear documentation of the property before a project begins, as well as a thorough presentation of the proposed work. The review is comparative, examining the existing conditions and evaluating the proposed work based on that information. Without complete documentation, review is difficult and in some cases may be impossible. When projects are completed prior to SHPO review, there may be complications regarding funding and other approvals. There are three major categories of documentation essential for most projects: photographs, plans (site, floor and elevation), and a narrative description of work. Occasionally, material samples may also be requested.


Photographs are the basis for understanding existing conditions at an historic property. Photographs which illustrate the primary features of the historic property, as well as the property overall, should be provided. For historic buildings, photographs of all interior spaces and features, and all exterior elevations, should be taken. For historic structures, such as bridges or canal features, photographs of associated elements like roadway approaches and abutting properties, should be included. In the case of historic landscapes, panoramic or aerial photographs should be considered. All photographs should be keyed to plans as necessary, so that reviewers can easily understand the area and direction of view. Good quality black and white or color prints, and color photocopies are acceptable. Generally, Polaroid-type or other "instant" formats do not provide enough clarity or detail to be useful for review.


Plans are almost always required to understand a project and should depict the existing conditions of the property, as well as any proposed changes. For clarity, it is best that "existing" and "proposed" plans be prepared as separate drawing sets. For actions affecting buildings, if changes are proposed for the exterior, elevation drawings should also be submitted. Section drawings may be necessary to show changes in ceiling height, new interior construction or other complex proposals. For projects affecting significant landscape features--such as topography or vegetation--grading and planting plans should be submitted, and section or elevation drawings may be useful.


The narrative should clearly describe the condition of the existing historic property, as well as proposed work, including the specific materials and methods of repair. The narrative should be as concise as possible, organized to first describe the existing feature or material and then describe the related proposed work.

How to apply for the Federal Investment Tax Credit

Owners wishing to apply for the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit need to use the three-part application, with supplemental plans and photos. We strongly encourage anyone pursuing tax credits to contact the SHPO early in the planning stages of your project so that we can discuss the application and help in its development. Also, it is in the owner's best interest to obtain approval from the National Park Service for the rehabilitation prior to construction. The SHPO works with the property owner and/or architect throughout the project development and construction phases to help owners obtain tax credits.

Part 1 is the "Evaluation of Significance" and establishes the historic status of the building. To qualify, properties must be listed on the national Register of Historic Places or listed within 30 months of project completion.

The Part 2 "Description of Rehabilitation" is detailed documentation of the existing conditions and the rehabilitation proposal. This proposal is evaluated using the Secretary's Standards to determine whether it is consistent with the historic character of the structure.

Following completion of the project, the "Request for Certification of Completed Work," commonly called the Part 3, is submitted documenting the completed condition of the building. If it is determined that the completed project is consistent with the Standards, the National Park Service issues final certification.

Project Checklist

The following checklist includes items typically associated with any rehabilitation project. If your project is being reviewed by the SHPO, this list can serve as a guide for preparing materials necessary for review. The list is not comprehensive, and a project may involve other work items. View Project Checklist.