What is a Rural Historic District?
What is a Virginia Rural Historic District?
A rural historic district is a geographical area in Virginia outside of a city or town recognized by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) for its historic significance. There are six rural historic districts in Fauquier County dating from 2004.
How does an area become a rural historic district?
The local community, through a volunteer committee, files a nomination form with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR) in Richmond for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The nomination is a formal process that requires research of the area, and identification and description of historic buildings and other items of interest, such as view sheds, architecture, cemeteries, and social history and ethnic heritage. (Note, this is not a comprehensive list of nationalities and ethnic identities). The criteria for eligibility are the same for the State and National Registers, so only one nomination process is required. The nomination has two steps: 1. A Preliminary Information Form (PIF) is submitted to the VDHR as the first step in the nomination process. This form provides and overview of the proposed district’s historical significance and preliminary boundaries. 2.) Once the PIF is approved by the VDHR, the historic properties are officially identified through survey work and a National Register nomination form is prepared and submitted to the VDHR. The VDHR will hold a public hearing prior to its decision. If the nomination is approved by the VDHR, it is then forwarded to the National Park Service for final review and approval. We have hired architectural historian Cheryl Shepherd of Warrenton to do the PIF and the National Register nomination form.
What benefits will rural historic district designation give you as a community?
The National Register identification as an RHD and will signal to the outside world, “that we welcome you to our community, but please be respectful of our history, our rural heritage and our way of life.” The designation will also contribute to a greater sense of community that will enhance all of our collective and ongoing efforts to preserve and protect our community. Equally important, the designation will make it more difficult (although not impossible) for federal and state agencies (like VDOT and Dominion Power) to take action inconsistent with the historic and rural character of the valley. The designation also makes it easier to qualify for special tax credits available in connection with the restoration of historic buildings for those who choose to do so, but this program is entirely voluntary.
If an area becomes a rural historic district, will there be any special rules to follow?
No. The designation does not require property owners to follow any particular rules such as repair, restoration, maintenance or construction of their homes. Listing on the Registers does not -by law- involve any regulation of property in this district including whether you can alter or even demolish a building.
Will our real estate property taxes go up or down as a result of being in the district?
There will be no impact on real estate taxes one way or another.
Is a local or town government-approved historic district different from a federal historic district?
Yes. In Fauquier County, the Town Councils of Warrenton and The Plains for example, have approved local, downtown historic districts. These locally approved historic districts can be set up to permit architectural review of new construction and/or renovations that conform to the zoning in the district and the and the community’s preservation goals. On the other hand, the federally approved rural historic district designation does not provide for such regulation. It is purely an honorific designation.
How are the boundaries of the rural historic district determined?
The boundaries for an RHD are based largely on geographical features, but also take into account the cultural, social and historical characteristics of the community. The decision will ultimately be made through feedback from the VDHR and the National Park Service.
How can I learn more about rural historic district designation?
We want everyone in the community to have an opportunity to understand the concept of a rural historic district, to have their questions answered, and to make their feelings known. You may also visit the VDHR website: http://.dhr.state.va.us/registers/register or contact Susan Russell at email@example.com or 540-347-7610.
Rural Historic Districts
Springs Valley - The Next Proposed RHD
Current RHDs in Fauquier
Crooked Run Valley RHD
John Marshall’s Leeds Manor RHD
Cromwell’s Run RHD
Broad Run-Little Georgetown RHD
Little River RHD
Carters Run RHD