If you are a National Historic Preservation Act nerd or work in Section 106, you are well versed in the regs that provide protection for a historic property “that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register.” Preservation scholars know that the phrase “eligible for inclusion in” did not appear in the original text of the act. For my own curiosity’s sake, I decided to find the original laws and the amendment that added the clause.
I discovered the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has digitized the U.S. Statues at Large from 1951 to present, which fits well within the time frame of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. I used the text of the NHPA available on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s website to find the public law numbers for the original act and subsequent amendments.
On the GPO’s website, I selected year 1966, public laws, and then used the search feature in my browser to find “89-665” (the public law number of the original NHPA of 1966). I was able to pull up a PDF of the original National Historic Preservation Act, Public Law 89-665, and read the original text – it’s much shorter than the version we have today!
After sifting through the preceding amendments, I was able to determine the amendment that added the phrase “eligible for inclusion in” to Section 106. You can find it in the 1976 amendments in Public Law 94-422. If you scroll to the eighth page of this document, you’ll discover the “eligible for inclusion in” amendment to 16 U.S.C. 470f.
There have been several amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act, but I happen to think the addition of this phrase greatly helped support the original intent of the law. Working in the compliance side of preservation, I work with a majority of historic buildings only eligible for the National Register. Due in large part to this amendment, many historic buildings are provided additional protection – a number so large I am unsure if it has ever been quantified by SHPO offices or the National Park Service.