The long awaited update to the Nantucket Historic District Landmark designation was unanimously approved on November 10 by the National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee in Washington, D.C. The report, prepared by the Nantucket Preservation Trust with funds from the Community Preservation Committee, began in 2007. The three year plus study includes a comprehensive analysis of the island’s architectural heritage and area of national significance. With this important hurdle now complete the update will proceed to the National Park Service for final revisions and formal approved by the Secretary of the Interior–expected in 2012. Although the old historic core and Sconset were recognized as a National Landmarks as early as 1966, when the program was first implemented by the Federal government, and landmark status was updated in 1975 to include the entire island, the designation did not recognize a significant part of the island’s history, namely its development in the late 19th and early 20th century as a resort community and the island’s critical role in the country’s preservation movement. With the acceptance of the update, these key elements of the island’s historic significance will be formally recognized.
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. The majority of NHL properties are individual buildings or resources. Nantucket is one of only a handful of communities which is entirely a NHL district. The program is the highest honor for historic properties and communities in the nation, and is meant to encourage and promote preservation activity. NHL designation has also been shown to help increased tourism and Main Street revitalization. Other benefits include qualification for historic properties in grant and tax credit programs, preservation easements programs, and release of building code requirements that can have a negative impact on historic fabric.