[Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Nominate a National Treasure


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Today more than ever, historic places that tell America’s broad and diverse story are becoming endangered and threatened. These places contribute to our shared national heritage and that’s something worth protecting, which is why we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation created the National Treasures Program.

National Treasures are where we take direct, on-the-ground action to save these places and promote their history and significance. But we need your help in identifying places of national significance that would benefit from the deep organizational resources of the National Trust. This toolkit explains how you can nominate a threatened historic resource in your area to become a National Treasure.


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[Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Nominate a National Treasure

  2. 2. What is a National Treasure? National Treasures are the threatened and endangered historic places that tell America’s broad and diverse story. Created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, this program is where we take direct, on-the-ground action to save these places and promote their significance and history. When beginning the nomination process, make sure that the historic resource in your area (a building, landscape, monument, or community) meets these three criteria.
  3. 3. 1. It must be nationally significant … … or the preservation work must have national implications. The resource must be on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, be a National Historic Landmark, or have some other type of designation that deems its significance on a national level.
  4. 4. 2. The historic resource must be threatened. Examples of threats that endanger a place include closure, demolition, inappropriate development, insufficient protection, lack of funding, and neglect.
  5. 5. 3. There must be a clear role for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Trust offers technical assistance in advocacy, marketing, planning, legal assistance, development, heritage tourism, and other areas of preservation to help save the threatened resource.
  6. 6. Keep in mind: Success stories are always encouraging and often inspire people to get involved in helping to save a place. Because the National Treasures program does just that, here are some guidelines to keep in mind when going through the nomination process.
  7. 7. Variety is good. The National Trust loves to receive a wealth of applications and encourages people to nominate diverse and unique places. It creates variety within the revolving portfolio of National Treasures, and helps us reach a broad audience.
  8. 8. Patience is appreciated. The National Trust encourages patience with the application process, as this is a highly competitive national program. National Treasures nominations receive multiple levels of review within the National Trust, and the process can take some time.
  9. 9. Each campaign is unique. It’s important to remember that no two National Treasures are the same. Each campaign has a different background story and will likely require different approaches. For example, some campaigns might focus heavily on marketing strategies, while others might require legal advocacy.
  10. 10. Example: Terminal Island Significance: WWI and II shipbuilding center, birthplace of tuna canning industry. Threat: Demolition Campaign Goals: Save the industrial buildings & encourage adaptive reuse. Campaign Strategy: Legal advocacy (Read more about the successful Terminal Island campaign here.)
  11. 11. Nominate your own National Treasure. If there’s a threatened historic resource in your area that you think deserves a “National Treasures” title, nominate it here. The National Trust has been preserving and protecting America’s historic places for more than 60 years, and with your help, we can continue the mission in new and inventive ways.
  12. 12. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit blog.preservationnation.org. Photos courtesy: Oka Tai-Lee, Flickr; Emw, Wikimedia; Cathy, Flickr; Relentlessly, Flickr; Eli Pousson, Flickr; Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Flickr; Franz Neumeier, Flickr; Steph Matthews, Flickr; Greg Bishop, Flickr.