How to place your property on the National Register of Historic Places

Any individual or party interested in having their property or properties nominated to the National Register of Historic Places should contact The South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. The historic preservation specialist for the southeastern part of the state will assist you in determining potential eligibility and preparing a nomination. All nominations deemed potentially eligible by the Historic Preservation staff will be presented before the South Dakota Historical Society Board. The Board meets quarterly. If approved by the State Board, the nomination is forwarded to the National Park Service in Washington D.C. for approval or denial. The process from beginning to end usually takes about six to nine months.

In preparation for a nomination, the property owner is required to complete a National Register Preliminary Assessment Form. These forms may be obtained by contacting the regional historic preservation specialist. The completed Assessment Form is utilized by the staff to determine if potential eligibility for the National Register exists.

Information needed to complete the form includes:

  1. Historic and current name of the property
  2. Property address
  3. Historic and current owners of the property
  4. Historic and current use of the property
  5. Date of construction
  6. Exterior materials (both historic and current) for foundation, walls and roof
  7. Interior materials (both historic and current) for ceilings walls and floors
  8. Alterations to the property such as additions, window or door changes, changes to porches or changes to the decorative elements of the property including brackets balconies, railings, columns, shutters, cornices, molding, brackets, etc.
  9. Site features including any outbuildings and a description of the setting/landscaping.

All properties on the National Register of Historic Places are significant for one or more of the following criteria:

  • Criterion A (history)
  • Criterion B (person)
  • Criterion C (architecture)
  • Criterion D (archeology)

Property owners must select one or more of the criteria and describe the history of the property and why it is significant on either a local, state, or national level. Owners should document their sources of information. (county records, family history, local historical society etc. etc.)

Recent photos of the property need to be submitted along with historic photos (if available). The photos should be full shots of each exterior side of the building(s) and representative photos of the interior.

To request a National Register Preliminary Assessment Form or to learn more about the process for nomination, please contact:

South Dakota State Historical Society
Historic Preservation Program
900 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2217

Phone (605) 773-3458
Fax (605) 773-6041

Researching your home

These resources will help you investigate the history of your home in Vermillion, SD.

  1. Seek out oral histories. Talk with former owners and renters of your house. Do it now! Life is fragile. The information may be lost if the people die or move out of the area. If possible, do informal interviews of past owners and renters.
  2. Read your abstract if you received one when you purchased your house. If you do not have the abstract, check with the former owner to see if he/she has the original abstract.
  3. Go to the Register of Deeds Office in the Clay County Courthouse. Tell them you would like to investigate the history of your tract of land. Take along the legal description of the property.
  4. Go to the Director of Equalization in the Clay County Courthouse. Look for changes to the property's valuation. Again, take along the legal description of the property.
  5. Check the Sanborn Insurance Maps that are kept at the Austin-Whittemore House in Vermillion. If you have names, dates, and events associated with the house, it can be helpful in your research!
  6. Go to the Clerk of Courts Office in the Courthouse. Ask to see the probate records for people who may have died while owning the house.
  7. Check old Vermillion newspapers. Original newspapers are on file at the Austin Whittemore House and microfilm copies are at the I.D. Weeks Library at the University of South Dakota.
  8. Visit the Vermillion Public Library. Go through the indexes of local history books available at the Vermillion Public Library: History of Clay County, South Dakota by Herbert Schell, Clay County: Chapters Out of the Past by Herbert Schell, and The Forest Avenue Historical District 1873-1980 by Judith Gudger Krueger.
  9. Check other resources at the Austin-Whittemore House and the Vermillion Public Library.

Please note that there may be retrieval fees associated with this research.


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