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Listing in the National Register and/or the State Register recognizes officially the significance of a property or district to the heritage of the state and the nation.  The national Register is the official national list of historical, architectural, engineering and archeological properties and districts worthy of preservation.  Listing in the National Register:

  • Makes property owners eligible for federal matching grants-in-aid for historic preservation, when they are available, which are administered by the division of Historic preservation.
  • Provides protection through comment by the National Advisory Council on Historic preservation on the effect of federally financed, licensed, or assisted undertakings on historic properties, as stated in section 106 of the National Historic preservation Act.
  • Makes available federal 20% tax incentives, and state 5% “piggyback” tax incentives, to encourage the preservation of depreciable historic structures, which are used for commercial, industrial, residential rental, and other income-producing purposes.

The Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places, created under sec. 44.36, Wisconsin Statutes, parallels the National Register, but is designed to enable state-level historic preservation protections and benefits.  Most of the properties in Wisconsin listed in the National Register are also listed in the State Register.  Listing in the State Register:

  • Provides review through comment by the State Historical Society on the effect of state facilities development, long-range planning, and state grants, permits, and licenses on historic and prehistoric properties.
  • Makes available 25% state tax credits for rehabilitating non-income producing historic properties, primarily private houses.
  • Makes available local property tax exemptions for archeological properties and privately owned historic buildings used for stipulated purposes.
  • Requires state agencies that own such properties to plan for their preservation and attach historic preservation easements to them when disposing of them.
  • Requires local governments who own such properties to consider the effects of their undertaking on them, and attach historic preservation easements to them when disposing of them.


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

  • That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history;
  • That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
  • 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
  • That have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important to prehistory or history.

There are certain types of property that generally are excluded from listing, such as properties used for religious purposes, moved buildings (in the case of the National Register), and properties achieving significance less than 50 years ago. More information regarding the National Register and/or the State Register can be obtained from the Division of Historic Preservation of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin (608 / 264-6500).


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