How do I know if a property qualifies for heritage registration?
In order for heritage registration to occur, the following work must be completed:
- Documentation and research
- Determine heritage value
- Establish character-defining elements
Documentation and Research
The best way to start investigating and researching built heritage is by carefully examining and documenting the physical site. Experiencing the site first-hand allows for an honest assessment of its current state and provides valuable insights that cannot be derived from historical research alone.
Another valuable method for distilling a site's heritage value is to determine how it is regarded by its community. In situations where the site is not being used or maintained, conducting interviews with residents can help gauge the site's relevance within the community.
Though time-consuming, these interviews may unearth details and aspects of the site's history that might have otherwise gone unknown. If interviewing local residents does not prove helpful, it might be valuable to search through archival material. The site may also be referenced in histories of the local area, local press, municipal minutes or other material.
Determine Heritage Value
Heritage value is the aesthetic, historic, scientific, cultural, social or spiritual importance or significance for past, present or future generations.
The heritage value of a historic place is embodied in its character- defining materials, forms, location, spatial configurations, uses and cultural associations or meanings.
To determine heritage value, the following factors should be considered:
- Is the property comparatively old in the context of the community or province?
- Does it reflect a particular historical period or event?
- Is it similar in age to surrounding buildings and therefore contributes to the continuity of the streetscape or heritage district?
- Was the property designed and/or built by a locally, provincially or nationally renowned architect?
- Did the property's architect/designer make a significant contribution to the community or province?
- Was the property owned or resided in by a person who is significant to the community or province?
- Did a significant person visit or stay there?
- Was the property used by a significant person?
- Did a significant event occur at the property?
- Is the property related to a significant event? (Significant historic events frequently include WWI, WWII, the Halifax Explosion, sinking of the Titanic, arrival of the Loyalists, etc.)
- Is the property an outstanding example of a specific architectural style?
- Is it an uncommon/rare or unique architectural style for the area/province?
- Does the architectural style contribute to the streetscape or district?
- Is the property a good or excellent example of a method of construction?
- Is it an uncommon/rare or unique method for the area/province?
- Does the method reveal important details about the builders?
- Has the place maintained its integrity, without substantial alterations or renovations?
- Is the craftsmanship particularly impressive or unique?
Establish Character-Defining Elements
Character-defining elements are the specific attributes of a building, structure or place that determine heritage value and reveal the unique context behind the construction or function of a historic site.
When assessing potential heritage value, the two most fundamental elements to examine are a structure's architecture and its historic associations.
Through the investigation and research of these elements it is possible to fully understand a structure's historic use, its spiritual and cultural ties to a community, and its impact upon the surrounding environment and/or landscape.