Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Myths About Historic Homes, buildings, sites and the historic register

The Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places is Hawaii’s official list of districts, sites, structures, buildings, and objects that are significant at either the national, state, or local level in the areas of history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or cultural heritage. On this list, vastly different types of resources are represented from culturally significant Native Hawaiian sites, to an outrigger canoe, residential properties, plantation era communities, and the only palace in the United States. These sites together represent the broad range of historic resources important to the history of Hawai‘i.

MYTH:  Listing or being eligible to be listed on the historic register prevents owners from making changes or limits their property rights
FACT: Federal, state, or local governments do not assume any property rights in the residence as a result of listing. Being listed on the Register does not restrict the rights of private property owners in the use, development, or sale of private historic property.

MYTH:  Only Listed Residences Are Subject to Permit Review
FACT: All owners of historic homes older than fifty years must allow the SHPD an opportunity to review proposed construction, alteration, disposition, or improvements prior to commencing the work. Under state law 6E-10, SHPD has ninety days to conduct this review if a residence is listed on the Hawaii Register. Under state law 6E-42, SHPD has thirty days to carry out this review if a home is older than fifty years and not listed on the Register.

MYTH:  A Listed Residence Must Be Opened to the Public
FACT: Owners of private residences listed on the Hawai‘i Register have no obligation to open their properties to the public. If they take a County property tax exemption for a listed residence, however, one of the conditions they agree to is that the public be assured a reasonable view of the property. The County requires this public benefit in exchange for the financial benefit it gives to the owner. “A reasonable view”, does not include entering onto the property.

MYTH:  Owners of Listed Houses Are Required to Make Repairs and Alterations

FACT: Private property owners are not required to maintain, repair, or restore properties listed on the Hawaii Register. They may make changes to their historic homes, but must allow the SHPD an opportunity to review and comment. This is to ensure the appropriateness of the alteration. It is possible that inappropriate alterations could cause a historic residence to be removed from the Register, and an owner risks losing property tax benefits previously claimed.

MYTH:  The Owner of a House Listed on the Register Automatically Receives a Historic Residence Plaque
FACT: Neither the State nor the Federal Government automatically provides private property owners with a plaque or marker for residences listed on the Hawaii and/or National Registers. If an owner wants to purchase a historic residence plaque, it is available locally through Historic Hawaii Foundation. The City and County of Honolulu requires owners of historic residences who receive exemptions from real property taxation to place a sign or plaque on these properties. Maui, Kauai and Hawai‘i Counties, on the other hand, do not require owners of listed properties to put historic residence signs on these homes, although they must assure reasonable visual access to the public.
Read more about historic properties..

Questions about historic properties, historic designations or the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places?

Contact Historic Hawaii Foundation's Preservation Resource Center
Katie Kastner, Director of Field Services
808-523-2900 x22