Documentation

Survey The preservation process requires more “ongoing study and interpretation” to establish the importance of a building or site. A common initial step is to conduct a reconnaissance level survey to make initial determinations, then prepare a local contextual history, and perhaps formulate a thematic context that communicates its place in Utah’s architectural history.  The context can also be helpful in providing a foundation for a multiple property nomination. With this information, the next step is to educate policy makers such as city council members and planners regarding the importance of the resources to the community’s history and give a visual presentation of the most significant examples. This presentation should inform these officials “that by preserving the building they will show themselves responsive to the latest findings of scholarship. They will demonstrate a level of vision that will keep their city or town in the forefront of preservation planning.” Occasionally, a municipality will realize that vision and provide support for designation, the next step after surveying. Even though cities in Utah have viable preservation programs for pre-World War II buildings, preservation advocates must make sure the policy makers are aware that the city’s “newer” building stock in their own district also has significance, and faces constant threats from new development. The third step is to seek local designation for architecturally outstanding buildings before they reach fifty years old. While local preservation standards generally follow the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s criteria for listing in the National Register, city and state preservation officers must remember that the so-called fifty-year rule is only a guideline. National Register of Historic Places If the building is fifty years or older and still has its historical integrity (looks nearly like it did when constructed), then it is important to select which criterion is most applicable to the individual property from the following criteria:

Criterion A: A Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or,

Criterion B: associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or,

Criterion C: embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represents the work of a master, or that possesses high artistic values, or that represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.

According to National Register Bulletin 15: How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation, “the property’s specific association must be considered important as well” when applying Criterion A. Mid-century modern structures will likely meet eligibility related to the type, period, or method of construction, which is Criterion C. Each in their own way has a distinctive style and design that makes them significant examples of modern design. Criterion B would only be applicable with persons of merit during the period. If the building in question is not yet fifty years old, one can make an argument that the building has “exceptional” significance.” National Register Bulletin 22: Guidelines for Evaluating and Nominating Properties That Have Achieved Significance within the Past Fifty Years explains the exceptions and special circumstances which may qualify such a building for listing. Therefore, it becomes important to build the case for significance on the local level in order to strengthen the argument for national designation of many of these custom branch banks as a building type. In the case of a group of structures either in style or by architect, it may be a better route to document them as a thematic group rather than individual properties. Thus, one should also refer to the National Register Bulletin 16b: How to Complete the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Form before embarking on preparation of a National Register nomination for multiple structures. In all cases, it is best to contact the Utah Division of State History/State Historic Preservation Office to discuss your potential National Register nomination. There are a number of justifications and benefits for seeking listing in the National Register of Historic Places. One is the honor for the owner and the building. There is a certain cachet associated with having a building listed. Many people implicitly believe that once a building is on the National Register it is safe from demolition. While that is not true, national listing can sometimes help rally the public’s interest in saving the building. From the preservationist’s perspective, there is perceived “clout” associated with a National Register listing. In addition, the property owner is also eligible to access the federal rehabilitation tax credit. Next, learn about Rehabilitation and Adaptive Use

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