Is Your House Historic?
Want to Research The History of Your Home?
The State of New Jersey has put together a great booklet for you to get started with your research.
(We also have hard copies of this at the THSSH)
Don't forget there is a wealth of information all around us.
- Local Libraries
- Local Tax Offices
- County Tax Offices (Somerville)
- State Offices
- Title Searchers
Also, the Adult School of the Chathams, Madison, and Florham Park has created a new Special Interest Program held at the Morristown & Morris Township Library entitled, "Researching Your House's History"
Click Here for more information.
If there's something specific you are looking for, please don't hesitate to drop us a note and let us know how your research is coming.
Background and Purpose of the Guidelines
Like many who are trying to understand the differences between restoration,
renovation, and reconstruction, the Historical Society of the Somerset
Hills has helped many local residents research their homes to determine
an appropriate restoration effort tied to the originating period.
These guidelines are endorsed by the Historical Society and
The Somerset Hills of New Jersey is home to many areas, sites, and
structures that have shaped the identity of generations of citizens,
collectively and individually, and have produced significant historic,
architectural and cultural resources constituting our heritage. Many
properties contribute to the historic nature of our community through
their unique architectural, historical or geographic characteristics.
The goal of the Somerset Hills Historical Society is to enhance and
preserve historic structures as we seek to ensure the longevity of
our community's rich tradition.
The Historical Society promotes the guidelines below when considering
a restoration, renovation, or alteration of historic buildings. These
guidelines are intended to observe the rights of individual property
owners with a respect for preserving our community's architectural
heritage. As such, the guidelines can inform interested homeowners
and prospective buyers of relevant design issues prior to hiring a
professional to rehabilitate or modify an historic property. Architects
and other professionals may then use the guidelines -which include
some general architectural principles on page 3 - during the design
process. Further, these guidelines establish criteria the Historical
Society will use when responding to any formal proposals submitted
How do I know if I own a historic building?
Fifty years or older is a generally recognized guide for a building
to be considered historic, but not all historic buildings are historically
significant. The Historical Society has copies of the Somerset County
cultural resource surveys for the five Somerset Hills towns.
However, even if a building is not listed in a formal inventory,
an owner of an older building may find the guidelines and principles
Criteria for considering a structure or site to be historically
- Character, interest or value as part of the community's development.
- Location was site of a significant historical event.
- The property is identified with people who made important contributions
to political, social and/or cultural life of the community.
- The building embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural
- The building was designed by an architect, or constructed by a master
builder or craftsman of local, regional, or national stature.
- The building embodies architectural design, detail, materials, or
craftsmanship, which are significant. In some cases the architectural
value may be due to the unique or innovative nature of the structure
such as an expression of indigenous materials or techniques.
- The building may have a unique location that has become an established
or familiar visual feature of the neighborhood or community.
- The property has symbolic meaning, value, or appeal to the community.
Download the complete guidelines Click
Rehabilitating Your Old House:
New Jersey's Award-Winning Rehabilitation
Subcode Imposing new building requirements on existing buildings
creates a barrier to restoring historic buildings. Applying new building
standards to these structures often disturbs the historic character
of the building. Regulations that are specific and tailored to existing
buildings can vastly facilitate and improve historic preservation
Rehabilitation Subcode is an example of government reassessing its
regulations and actually improving the effectiveness of the regulations
by imposing fewer and more sensible requirements on the public. Building
departments win because buildings are improved and made safer. Building
owners win because they are able to improve their properties, increase
their value, and produce buildings in which people want to live and
work. Local construction officials have been trained to use the Subcode.
You can learn more about the Rehab Subcode and download a complete
copy of the regulations here: http://www.state.nj.us/dca/codes/rehab/rehabguide.shtml.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
These guidelines acknowledge and are in support of the The Secretary
of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties
with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing
Historic Buildings. Though the Standards are mandated for all historic
structures officially recognized by Federal, State or local authorities,
in many cases the Guidelines are also an excellent resource for those
interested in working with any historic building. They provide information
on all types of historic buildings whether commercial or residential
and are not limited to types of construction, building sizes or levels
In summary, the Secretary’s Guidelines recognize four basic
tenets when strictly adhering to the Standards of Historic Preservation:
Identify, Protect, Repair and Replace. Available through the internet
the Standards and Guidelines are an excellent resource when considering
the rehabilitation or alteration of any historic property. The National
Park Service also has a number of additional resources available on
the Internet, including a series of Preservation Brief that provide
guidance on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings.
How does a
Historical Site become a