On Preservation

What are all those Registers and Historic Districts?

Not all historic or significant buildings are listed in a Register or Inventory, nor are all of them in a Historic District. A building or group of buildings can be important to the character of a Norwalk neighborhood without having state or national recognition, but some buildings, structures, and groups of buildings have been recognized for their contribution to our history and their value to Norwalk and the nation.

National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of buildings, structures, districts, sites, and objects that merit preservation because of their significance in American culture. Since 1968 more than 4,500 properties in Connecticut have been listed on the National Register and over 80,000 individual properties and districts have been listed nationwide. Although registration alone does not prevent an owner from altering a property, designation does assist preservation efforts in other ways, such as ensuring assessment of impact from federally sponsored projects and providing eligibility for federal tax credits and, when available, federal grants-in-aid. Properties may be listed individually or as part of a district. There are 9 National Register properties in Norwalk and 3 National Historic Districts. All National Register properties and Districts are also listed in the State Register.

The official National Register criteria for evaluation are as follows:

"The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and

(a) that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

(b) that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or

(c) that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

(d) that have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history." [36CFR60]

There are no restrictions associated with a listing in the National Register and the property is protected under the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act.

Norwalk Preservation Trust is currently actively involved with individuals and neighborhoods to create National Register Historic Districts in Rowayton, Silvermine, and Wall Street.

More information on the National Register may be found at www.nps.gov/history/nr/

National Historic Landmarks

National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff who work to nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks.

The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk holds the distinction of being listed in this highly selective group of important buildings, sites and structures.

More information on the National Historic Landmark program may be found at www.nps.gov/nhl/

State Register of Historic Places

The State Register of Historic Places is Connecticut's official listing of structures and sites that characterize the historical development of Connecticut. The State Register uses the same criteria for listing as the National Register except that special-case considerations (such as a 50-year age requirement) are not applicable. Properties are listed on the State Register by the Commission on Culture and Tourism's Historic Preservation Council following review and recommendation by the staff of the Historic Preservation and Museum Division. Since 1975, over 50,000 properties owned by private citizens, organizations, municipalities, and the State of Connecticut have been listed on the State Register. A property may be listed individually or as part of a district. Norwalk has three State Register Districts in addition to those listed in the National Register.

There are no restrictions associated with listing in the State Register of Historic Places, but a listing may qualify a property owner for certain state tax benefits.

More information on the State Register may be found at the Historic Preservation and Museum Division of the CCT and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

Local Historic Districts and Properties

Towns may establish historic districts and historic properties for which exterior architectural changes are reviewed by local preservation commissions. The Division's State Historic Preservation Office staff meets regularly with local communities which are considering establishing local historic districts and historic properties. State Historic Preservation Office staff provides information regarding procedures to be followed under the state enabling statutes, responsibilities of the study committee, and preparation of the study report. Since 1959, 122 historic districts (comprising 8,046 buildings) and 78 individual historic properties have been designated throughout the state. These designations are found in urban as well as rural areas of a total of over 77 towns.

Towns which have a Local Historic District qualify for state grant funding which is not otherwise available. Norwalk, unlike New Canaan, Westport, Darien, and Wilton does not have a Local Historic District or Property.

More information on Local Historic Districts may be found at the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.