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New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places






The need for architectural survey derives from the desire to identify the significant physical elements of our past in order that they may be preserved and protected for future generations. Although referred to as "architectural," a survey of historic properties should look beyond buildings to include all visible aspects of the built environment that combine to form our historic fabric, such as bridges and dams, wharves and ships, canals, windmills, silos, cemeteries, parks and gardens, etc. Four basic steps apply to the process of architectural survey: establishing the purpose for the survey, conducting research, undertaking fieldwork, and preparing a written report. To establish the purpose of the survey, one must answer: Why is the survey being undertaken? What information and analysis must result? How and from where will the necessary information be generated or retrieved to address this purpose? Background research is then geared to the survey purpose. Research can relate to a broad overview of many properties (as in a published county history) or to a single property (as in deed research). Field work entails the physical and visual identification, documentation, and recordation of historic resources in the survey area. Finally, the research and fieldwork are synthesized into a written report that presents survey findings with illustrations and text, and summarizes the methodology of the first three steps.

Guidelines for Architectural Survey



The New Jersey Historic Preservation Office is pleased to offer the Guidelines for Architectural Survey (Guidelines). With the implementation of these Guidelines, New Jersey became one of many states to set forth professional standards and guidelines for historic architectural survey (Ohio, Massachusetts, and Delaware have used similar guidelines for several years), and the HPO continues its mission of helping the citizens of New Jersey identify, preserve, protect and sustain our collective architectural and archaeological heritage. Architectural survey is defined as the process of identifying and gathering information about historic architectural resources, and these Guidelines have been developed by the HPO to aid and inform anyone undertaking that process. The Guidelines address these and other aspects of architectural survey, and complement the HPO's archaeological survey and reporting guidelines. Please use the links below to view the Guidelines in PDF format or contact the office to obtain paper copies. (Please note: due to the large file size, the document has been divided into smaller PDF files).

Survey Forms

The Guidelines for Architectural Survey
also introduce a new system of survey forms
designed to collect and organize the information needed to assess the eligibility of historic properties for listing in the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. Different forms are available for documenting New Jersey's buildings, structures, districts and objects. The system of forms consists of a Base Form, Attachments, the Historic District Overlay, and an Eligibilty Worksheet. Attachments prompt the surveyor to provide information tailored to the evaluation of a particular property type.

The forms and instructions are included with the Guidelines but are also available as MS Word documents, formatted to resemble the printed forms. Ultimately, the forms will be generated using a database application that will record property data in a digital format for inclusion in the HPO's Geographic Information System for historic resources.


Forms and Publications:

  1. Guidelines for Architectural Survey: (All PDF Format)
  2. Architectural Survey Forms and Instructions, (ZIP Format, Compressed MS Word Documents)
  3. Guidelines for Phase I Archaeological Investigations: Identification of Archaeological Resources. (HTML)
  4. Guidelines for Preparing Cultural Resources Management Archaeological Report Submitted to the Historic Preservation Office. (PDF Format)
  5. NR Bulletin #24: Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis For Preservation Planning (NPS Website)

Useful Links :

  1. National Park Service Links to the Past (NPS Website)
  2. National Register of Historic Places Program (NPS Website)
  3. National Historic Landmmarks Program (NPS Website)
  4. National Register Bulletins (NPS Website)
  5. Other Links
  6. Alternatives Analysis Outline for Protecting Buildings (PDF Format)
  7. Local Names published by NJ Department of Transportation (PDF Format)

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: April 4, 2019