A person can purchase an old home, but age alone doesn’t necessarily make a home “historic.” The National Register of Historical Places, created by an act of Congress in 1966, provides the recognized standard for historic designation.
The three main criteria for being listed with the National Register are as follows:
- The house must be at least 50 years old.
- It must maintain its physical integrity, meaning that both the home and its lot cannot have changed significantly from the original design.
- The home needs to have historic significance in at least one of three ways — through its association to specific individuals who played an important role in state or national events; by its unique or characteristic architectural properties; or due to its ability to yield information about the region’s past.
Any home listed on the National Register is automatically listed with the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties. In addition, Colorado has its own criteria for homes to be included on the state registry:
- The property is associated with significant historical events.
- It is connected to people who played some role in those events.
- It’s architecture is distinctly characteristic of a period, type, or means of construction..
- The property is geographically important.
- The house or property may yield important prehistoric or historic discoveries.
The state of Colorado itself places no restrictions on what a property owner can do with a historic home. Owners can tear down the structure completely or renovate in ways that destroy the architectural integrity of the home unless there are local regulations and permitting procedures in place to prevent an individual from doing so. That is what makes local activism and the designation of historic places so important.