Statement of Significance

Significance is generally used to describe a property’s relative importance, and is based on two primary factors: historical or cultural importance and architectural value. Sometimes both historical and architectural aspects contribute, in which case the overall significance is enhanced.

A property’s potential significance (in the US) is based on the National Register’s Criteria for Evaluation, which describes four criteria:

  1. The property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of American history.
  2. The property is associated with the life of a significant person in the American past.
  3. The property embodies distinctive features of a type, period, method of construction, or high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
  4. The property and its site yield, or are likely to yield, important information in history or prehistory.

The importance of any historic property must be evaluated according to its integrity, whether historic or architectural. The National Park Service has developed a list of seven elements to determine the level of integrity necessary for historic significance: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association. This assessment is performed relative to local conditions and community values, and is not a quantifiable evaluation.

A summation of this process of evaluation results in a formal “statement of significance,” which is an essential component of several historic documents. The statement of significance is required for nominations for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or designation as a National Historic Landmark.

A statement of significance is also required for Historic Structure Reports and Cultural Landscape Reports. [1]

A justification for a historic designation. A statement of significance is included in an international or national listing.

[1] Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, 2nd ed., (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009): Chap. 5.

[2] Canadian Register of Historic Places. Writing Statements of Significance.

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     p. Chap. 5.

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