Currently there are 7 separate National Register Historic Districts in the City of Topeka. Collectively, these districts include a total of 435 individual properties. Three of the districts reflect the single-family residential expansion of Topeka during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, while one district reflects a period of higher density residential development. Two of the districts catalogue the broad and lengthy period of commercial and industrial development of the city, while another reflects the early history and growth of one of Topeka's oldest Catholic parishes.
Topeka National Register Historic Districts
About the National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places (National Register) is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. These properties have national, state, or local significance in the areas of history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or culture. Administered by the National Park Service, the National Register program coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic and prehistoric resources. Properties listed in the National Register include buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects.
Criteria for Listing
To be listed in the National Register, properties must be evaluated according to uniform standards established by the National Park Service.
Unless they are of exceptional importance, properties eligible for listing in the National Register must be at least 50 years old. They must retain a substantial degree of their physical integrity from the period in which they are significant. This includes integrity of location, setting, workmanship, design, materials, feeling and association. In addition, properties must possess significance in at least one of the following areas:
- Association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history;
- Association with the life of a person or persons significant in our past;
- Embodiment of distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction; and/or
- Potential to yield information important in prehistory or history.
Most historic districts are significant under Criteria A and C, illustrating a pattern of development as well as an architectural period or continuum of architectural styles.
How Listing Affects Property Owners
In addition to recognizing a property's significance, a number of incentive and protection programs are associated with listing on the National Register:
Historic Tax Credits
the State of Kansas has enacted legislation that creates a state income tax credit equal to 25% of rehabilitation expenses on historic properties ‐‐ both income‐producing and non‐income‐producing. To be eligible for the tax credit, a property must be listed on the National Register of Historic Places or on the Register of Historic Kansas Places and the rehabilitation work must protect the property's historic character.
National Register properties that are used for income‐producing purposes may also be eligible for an additional federal tax credit equal to 20% of qualified rehabilitation expenses. There is an added review at the National Park Service, but the standards to which the project is reviewed are the same as at the state level. The minimum investment threshold is 100% of the adjusted basis and it has to be met within 24 months. For the federal tax credit program, there is a 5‐year recapture period where the building cannot be sold or any portion of the ownership change.
Protection from Undertakings
National Historic Preservation Act
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their undertakings (such as projects receiving a federal license, permit or funding) on properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register. If a federal undertaking threatens to harm such properties, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) must be consulted to consider ways to avoid or minimize damage.
Kansas Historic Preservation Statute
Additional legislation in Kansas requires that the State of Kansas and any political subdivision of the State (county, township, city, school district, special district, regional agency, redevelopment agency, etc.) to not undertake a project that encroaches upon, damages or destroys any National and/or State Register property until the SHPO reviews the project and makes recommendations to the local agency. The agency/subdivision must prove that it made an effort to exclude or minimize harm to the property. The law also provides an appeals process for judicial review and civil enforcement.
Owners of properties that are individually significant or that contribute to a historic district who wish to make changes that require government permits (including building permits) must submit their plans to the City for review by the City and SHPO staffs. They will review the plans using the "Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings." These standards guide owners in rehabilitating historic buildings in a manner that ensures their functionality for modern living while preserving their historic character. The standards include guidelines for new construction as well as rehabilitation.
Properties listed in the National Register are automatically listed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places and can compete for the 80/20 matching grant funds available annually from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund for selected stabilization and/or rehabilitation projects.
How to List Properties On the National Register
Property owners or a professional consultant prepare a nomination for individual properties or groups of resources (historic districts) that describes the physical appearance of the nominated resource(s) as well as their historical significance. The nomination is submitted to the SHPO. The SHPO notifies property owners and local officials and invites them to comment, object or support the nomination. If the owner of an individual property or a majority of property owners in a district objects to the nomination, the property/district is not listed.
After the public notification period, the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review considers the nomination. If the Review Board agrees on the eligibility of the property, the nomination is forwarded to the National Park Service for final consideration and for listing.
Information from Rosin Preservation, LLC