Guest Blogger: Randy Jones on DHR’s Revised Guidelines for Conducting Surveys of Historic Resources

People who know Virginia Main Street know that historic preservation plays an important role in the success of the program. Most VMS communities, for instance, feature downtown historic districts that are listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Listing these districts in the state and national registers bolsters economic revitalization efforts in VMS downtowns as it opens the way for owners of historic buildings that contribute to a district to pursue tax credits in order to rehab a building. Registering a historic district demonstrates a VMS community’s commitment to preservation and has the additional benefit of boosting a locale’s ability to attract heritage tourists. Rehabbed buildings that result in new residential apartments and living spaces can also attract new residents to a downtown, thereby providing a residential base that supports local downtown businesses. 

For these reasons and others as well (e.g. community pride, education, cultural values, sustainability, planning), it is important for communities to identify their historic resources through comprehensive surveys. As the state agency that deals directly with the listing of districts and individual properties on the state and national landmark registers, the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) has established guidelines for conducting architectural and archaeological surveys. We have titled this document, “Guidelines for Conducting Historic Resources Survey in Virginia.” Also known simply as The DHR Guidelines, this manual has been extensively revised and updated, a process that involved several years and much public input. The revised 178-page guidelines are now available as a PDF on the DHR website  or can be directly accessed through this link.

The revised guidelines — which are now DHR’s official policy for the documentation of historic resources with which DHR is involved — are intended for lay persons and professionals in the preservation field. Thus, as it states in the introduction, The DHR Guidelines “not only covers basic material, but also includes advanced historic resources documentation concepts and approaches.”

Any questions about the guidelines can be addressed to David Edwards( at DHR, who oversaw the revision project, which involved many agency staff members as well.