Here is our documentation to the journey for gaining a designation for a Historic Place on the registry of the National Historic Landmark Program. To have gained this status in the USA, we join the ranks of notable mid-century landmarks such as [to name a few]:
- SCHINDLER CHACE HOUSE in LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – designed by architect Rudolph M. Schindler in 1922, with no conventional living room, dining room or bedrooms in the house. The residence was meant to be a cooperative live/work space for two young families, and set a precedent for California architecture.
- FARNSWORTH HOUSE in PLANO, ILLINOIS – designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1945 and constructed in 1951, a vital part of American iconography, an exemplary representation of both the International Style of architecture as well as the modern movement’s desire to juxtapose a modern structure with the organic environment.
- GLASS HOUSE in NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT – or Johnson house, is now a historic house museum, that was built in 1948-49, designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence, and “universally viewed as having been derived from” the Farnsworth House design.
- NEUTRA STUDIO AND RESIDENCES (VDL RESEARCH HOUSE) in LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – designed by Richard Neutra in 1932, a famous founder of mid-century “California modern” design.
- THE MILLER HOUSE AND GARDENS in COLUMBUS, OHIO – showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley, built in 1957.
- EAMES HOUSE in LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarineen and was constructed in 1949, by husband-and-wife design pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, to serve as their home and studio. Now a historic house museum maintained by the Eames Foundation.
- SETH PETERSON COTTAGE in LAKE DELTON, WISCONSIN – Is a two-room lakeside cottage located in Mirror Lake State Park designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1958. It was also the location for our honeymoon.
Our journey began very early during our ownership, in fact within the first few weeks Indiana Landmarks contacted us, and approached us about the program. We were onboard with helping to preserve and tell the story of ‘Alside Homes Inc.’ and in particular ‘The Frost House’, as an outstanding example of Alside prefabricated homes.
The process requires a couple of steps and from start to end can take anywhere from 2-5 years to accomplish. The committees and boards only meet a few times a year, and there is plenty of advising and rework of applications. Our application will fit into criterion 4, out of the 6 criterion available:
Properties that embody the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type specimen exceptionally valuable for a study of a period, style, or method of construction,or that represent a significant, distinctive and exceptional entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
This criterion is used for properties that are exceptionally important works for their design, either as an individual building or a collection of buildings/resources comprising a district.
The property might be a key work of a nationally significant architect or builder. Not all works of a documented master are eligible for NHL designation. For example, while all of Frank Lloyd Wright’s extant buildings may be nationally significant given his importance, only those that represent his career benchmarks and/or designs that have become iconic within his body of work may be eligible for designation.
A property can also be considered under Criterion 4 as one of the best examples of an important type, period, form, or construction method (such as its engineering). It cannot be merely a competent design or representative example. The importance of a property type is determined by prevailing scholarship. Artistic value is considered only in the context of history’s judgment in order to avoid conflicts with current taste and aesthetic trends.
What is the process for getting on the National Historic Landmarks Registry?
On August 21st 2020 we became officially listed on the National Historic Landmarks Registry. This is a chronological documentation for the steps and milestones that we took. It didn’t happen fast.
2016: Exploring ideas and options for preserving the house.
- June 6th 2016: We meet a member of the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Committee, Pam O’Connor, who is a Preservation Practices Consultant, and an Advisor, National Trust for Historic Preservation, she kindly connects us with her contacts at Indiana Landmarks.
- June 9th 2016: Indiana Landmarks [Director, Todd Zeiger], visited the house to do a site-visit, and talk to us about Landmark status.
2017: Busy with landscaping and adding a pool.
- We got distracted with renovation projects and sharing the house with family and friends so there was so progress. We also had some discussions about making our property into an Easement to further protect the home, but that includes lots of $$$ and attorneys and we didn’t look into it much further than ‘talk’.
- August 4th 2017: Reconnect with Indian Landmarks to reinvigorate the process, they reply that they are keen to assist us for 2018 applications.
2018: Keen to get our application moving.
- May 1st 2018: Todd Zeiger connects us with a consultant – Kurt Garner, to help prepare our application.
- June 11th 2018: Kurt Garner visits the house to discuss the application process and to complete a site visit.
- June 15th 2018: Kurt Garner, on our behalf submitted our application to determine if we are eligible for consideration for a National Historic Landmark nomination, to be reviewed at an upcoming meeting.
- July 11th 2018: Our application for ‘Determination of Eligibility’ was reviewed by the state historic preservation office. We receive good news from Kurt that our application has been approved, and we are eligible to proceed with the nomination process for a National Historic Landmark designation.
- August 20th 2018: Indiana Modern committee approved a grant to assist in the cost of the National Register nomination.
- October 5th 2018: Kurt Garner makes a site visit to the Frost House to take photographs, and begins the process of writing the supporting documentation for our submission.
- October 31st 2018: We receive the first draft of the submission to review and provide comment.
- November 9th 2018: Application and photographs are submitted for processing.
- December 6th 2018: Our technical review passed and we now await the “blue sheet” for technical review approval on the Frost House nomination in the mail.
2019: Waiting .. waiting …
- Not a lot happened in 2019 our application sat on the waiting list for further review.
- No significant updates.
2020: still waiting ..
- February 18th 2020: Our nomination for the Frost House passed substantive review and the Review Board will consider the nomination at their next meeting, April 8, 2020.
- April 8th 2020: Meeting was cancelled due to Covid-19 Pandemic with no new date announced.
- July 16th 2020: Our nominations to the National Register is approved unanimously by the State Historic Review Board.
- August 21st 2020: We were officially listed on the National Historic Registry.
- September 8th 2020: Ordered a plaque.
So what do you need to help you with the process?
Here is what we have found so far:
- A connection with your state level landmarks program.
- A consultant to help write your application[s] and guide you through the process.
- Cash and/or grant money to pay for the work for the consultant to write the applications [it is not necessary, but it helps produce a better application].
- Lots of research to help support the application.
- More patience.
If you are considering the same process, or you are going through the same process, please feel free to connect with us to share stories.