History runs deep in Butler, surrounding counties

Published 6:02 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

Butler County, formed before Alabama achieved statehood in 1819, has its share of historic places that have withstood the test of time, including many stately old homes, churches, government buildings and commercial sites.

There are no less than 31 listings for the county on the National Register of Historic Places. The list includes individual buildings as well as historic districts with many buildings, such as Greenville’s downtown.

A listing in the National Registry, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, means that property is considered significant because of its architecture or its association with important people, events or cultural developments.

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What makes a property eligible? According to the National Register’s website, it must possess “integrity of location, design, material, workmanship and feeling.” It should be associated with an important event, or with people significant to history, or clearly illustrate a style, period or method of construction.

How does a property become listed? The Alabama Historical Commission actually submits nominations to the scholars and educators who make up the National Register of Historic Places Review Board.

If the review board finds the property meets one or more of the criteria and the documentation is accurate and sufficient, the nomination is forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register in the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. The review board meets three times a year.

The nomination process usually takes between six months and two years, depending on the complexity of the nomination, the amount and quality of documentation submitted, the significance of the property, and whether or not is considered endangered.

The National Register is not the only way, however, to have your property classified as of historic importance. The Alabama Historical Commission established the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage to create a quicker way to designate historic properties.

The Alabama Register includes properties such as cemeteries, churches, moved buildings, and structures less than 50 years old which may not typically qualify for National Register status.

What kinds of properties are eligible for the Alabama Register?

They must be at least 40 years old and associated with events of state or local significance, associated with the lives of people of state or local significance, or representative of a type, style or period of architecture.

Anyone interested in getting their property listed should request a form and instructions from the Alabama Historical Commission, specifying the type of property they wish to nominate (i.e., house, store, school, church, community). The completed form (including a description and history of the property) should be returned to the Alabama Register Coordinator at the AHC along with a map, site plan and/or floor plan, and current, good-quality photos. Once the necessary materials are received, the property will be scheduled for one of three meetings each year.

While the process of listing through the Alabama Register does not involve long delays, the length of time before the nomination is presented to the Alabama Register Review Board varies according to the availability of the necessary information.

Anyone desiring to have their property listed on both the Alabama and National Registers can do so simultaneously, as long as the property meets the criteria for both programs. This effort will have to be coordinated with the AHC staff early in the process, however.

For more information, contact the Alabama Register Hotline at (334) 230-2687. Applications for the Alabama Register may be obtained online by going to www.preservealabama.org or contact by mail at AHC, 468 S. Perry St., Montgomery, AL 36130-0900.

To be considered for inclusion on the National Register, contact Dr. Lee H. Warner, State Historic Preservation Officer, AHC, 468 S. Perry Street, Montgomery, AL 36130-0900; call (334) 242-3184 for more information.