Properties and districts are nominated to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. The Landmarks Preservation Commission reviews and recommends nominations to the City Council for designation.
The process takes approximately four to six months. Properties intending to apply for special tax valuation for the coming year must be nominated by June of that year.
To successfully nominate a building to the Register, you must document both its physical and cultural history using a Tacoma Register nomination form. The nomination should demonstrate why the property being nominated meets the criteria in the Tacoma Municipal Code for historic designation.
The property must:
- Be 50 years old or older at the time of nomination, and
- Retain integrity of the location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association so it is able to convey its historical, cultural or architectural significance, and
- Meet one of the following criteria:
A. Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
B. Is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
C. Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
D. Has yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history; or
E. Is part of, adjacent to, or related to an existing or proposed historic district, square, park, or other distinctive area which should be redeveloped or preserved according to a plan based on a historic, cultural, or architectural motif; or
F. Owing to its unique location or singular physical characteristics, represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood or City.
Useful tools include old newspaper articles, property records, photo archives, and city directories. The Northwest Room at the main branch of the Tacoma Public Library is one of the best archives of historic photos and records in the region, and is a good place to begin your research.
For complex nominations or large commercial properties, it may be helpful to retain the services of a professional historian or architectural historian. The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation maintains a Preservation and Trades Consultant Directory.
The Historic Preservation Office maintains online databases of buildings that have been placed on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places, as well as a Historic Properties Inventory for those buildings that may be eligible.
Tacoma Register of Historic Places Database - properties that are designated City Landmarks
Tacoma Historic Buildings Inventory Database - properties that may be eligible for listing on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places
Complete the Nomination Form
After gathering the historical information, use the nomination form (available in the column to the right) to record the historical narrative and the physical appearance and condition of the property. Contact the Historic Preservation Office if you have questions.
Landmarks Commission Review
The Historic Preservation Office will schedule completed nominations for a preliminary review before the Landmarks Commission. If the Landmarks Commission finds that the property appears to meet the designation criteria, it will be scheduled for a public hearing. If approved, the nomination is then forwarded to City Council.
The City Council Votes on the designation at their next available agenda.
Effects of Listing
Once designated, changes to City landmarks are subject to design review by the Landmarks Commission. Such projects may qualify for the City's Special Tax Valuation Program, the Historic Rehabilitation and Repair Loan Program, and potentially other development incentives (such as Transfer of Development Rights).