Designation Procedures for SALs

Shipwreck composite sonar imagePublic agencies, or any group or individual, may submit a property in public ownership for official State Antiquities Landmark (SAL) designation. Upon receipt of a complete nomination, the executive director of the Texas Historical Commission (THC) determines whether the property is eligible for designation and schedules the nomination for consideration at one of the commission’s public meetings. Nominations are first considered by the Antiquities Advisory Board, which makes recommendations to the commission. The commission allows a comment period prior to a final designation vote at their next scheduled meeting.

Privately owned property may be nominated for SAL designation by the property owner. SALs on private property receive the same protection under the Code as resources on public property. The designation is recorded in county deed records and conveys when the property is sold.

Potential SALs are evaluated under specific criteria within the following categories:

The Application for State Antiquities Landmark Nomination form may be downloaded from the Forms page. The criteria for evaluation and the designation process are explained in greater detail in the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Antiquities Code of Texas (Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Chapter 26) under Statutes, Regulations, and Rules. Relevant sections are also quoted below. Those who intend to nominate a property in public ownership or private property should read and be familiar with these rules.

For more information, or to begin the nomination process, contact the State Antiquities Landmarks program contact.

Rules for Designation of SALs

The following is quoted from the Rules of Practice and Procedure for the Antiquities Code of Texas, Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Chapter 26.

Rule 26.8: Designation Procedures for Publicly Owned Landmarks

(a) Nomination. Any group, public or private, individual, or public agency may submit a property in public ownership to the commission for official designation as a landmark. The nomination must be submitted to the commission on a form approved by the commission, and the commission will determine whether the nomination is complete. The nomination shall indicate the nature of the property's significance: as an archeological site, shipwreck, cache or collection, historic building or structure, or any combination thereof, per the criteria for evaluation specified in §§26.10 - 26.12 and §26.19 of this title.

(1) Third-party nominations. Any private individual or private group that desires to nominate a property owned by a political subdivision as a landmark must complete and return to the commission a nomination form, and must give notice of the nomination at the individual's or group's own expense, in a newspaper of general circulation published in the city, town, or county in which the building, structure or site is located. If no newspaper of general circulation is published in the city, town, or county, the notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in an adjoining or neighboring county that is circulated in the county of the applicant's residence. The notice must:

(A) be printed in 12-point boldface type;

(B) include the exact location of the building or site; and

(C) include the name of the group or individual nominating the building or site.

(D) An original copy of the notice and an affidavit of publication signed by the newspaper's publisher must be submitted to the commission with a nomination form. The commission will not consider a site owned by a political subdivision for designation as a landmark unless the notice and affidavit required by this section are attached to a nomination form. This notification must be received by both the commission and the public agency a minimum of 60 days prior to a regularly scheduled public meeting of the commission at which the nomination may be considered. All decisions regarding when a nomination will be considered by the commission will be made by the executive director of the commission.

(2) Requirements for buildings and structures. Nominations for buildings and structures must be accompanied by a deed or other legal description of the property nominated for designation. For a building or structure owned by a political subdivision, the nomination may be accompanied by a statement assessing fiscal impacts of the potential designation on the political subdivision.

(b) Evaluation. The executive director of the commission will determine whether the nomination is complete and acceptable, whether the property is eligible for designation, and when the nomination will be placed on the agenda of one of the commission's public meetings. In support of such determinations, the commission's staff will review the property according to the criteria for evaluation specified in §§26.10 - 26.12 and §26.19 of this title. Staff will recommend whether the nature of the property's significance indicated on the nomination form is accurate and if other areas should be considered.

(c) Notification of nomination. If the commission's staff wishes to nominate a property for landmark designation or intends to forward a nomination received for consideration, it must give the public agency or agencies that own the property a written notification that a nomination will be considered by the commission at one of its regularly scheduled public meetings. This notification must be received by the public agency a minimum of 15 days prior to the regularly scheduled public meeting of the commission at which the nomination is scheduled to be presented. The commission must also send the public agency complete site information on the proposed nomination. For a building or structure owned by a political subdivision, the notification will invite the political subdivision to submit a statement assessing the fiscal impacts of the potential designation.

(d) Interim protection and notification. Once a valid nomination for a landmark building or structure has been received and the commission's staff determines the property is eligible for designation, no project work may be undertaken on the property without a permit issued by the commission unless or until the commission denies the nomination or designation. Information regarding this protection will be included in the commission's notice on the nomination to the property owner.

(e) Presentation of nominations. Following staff evaluation and recommendations, nominations will be presented to the Antiquities Advisory Board. Written notice of the presentation will be sent to the owner. The Antiquities Advisory Board will review each nomination, the staff recommendations related to each nomination, and any testimony given by the owner of the property and the public at large. The Antiquities Advisory Board will then pass on its recommendations regarding each nomination to the commission. The chair of the Antiquities Advisory Board, or one of the other commission members who serve on the board, will present the nomination and recommendations to the commission at one of its public meetings.

(f) Comment period. No vote on final designation may be taken by the commission for a minimum period of 30 days, during which time all concerned parties may present evidence in support of or against designation of the property. Comments may be submitted to the commission at any time prior to the designation vote described in subsection (g) of this section, including during public testimony at the commission meeting where the vote will occur. Comments should address the property's merits in light of the criteria specified in §§26.10 - 26.12 and §26.19 of this title.

(1) Political subdivisions. Comments may address the fiscal impact on a political subdivision from the designation of a building or structure owned by the political subdivision, per §191.092(h) of the Texas Natural Resources Code.

(2) Institutions of higher education. Comments may address the impact on an institution of higher education from the designation of a building or land owned by the institution. If an institution of higher education notifies the commission during this timeframe that it protests to the proposed designation of a building or land under its control as a landmark, the matter becomes a contested case under the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, Texas Government Code, Chapter 2001. The hearing officer and the commission will follow the procedures and take into account the criteria listed in §191.021(b) of the Texas Natural Resources Code. Weighing these criteria against the criteria specified in §§26.10 - 26.12 and §26.19 of this title, the commission shall designate a property under the control of an institution of higher education as a landmark only if the record before the commission establishes by clear and convincing evidence that such designation would be in the public interest.

(g) Presentation of designation and designation vote. After the minimum comment period of 30 days has elapsed, the commission may consider the property for designation at one of its public meetings. The owners of the property will be informed of the agenda by written notice at least 15 calendar days in advance of the meeting date. Any person may present evidence or testify at the meeting when the final decision is to be made. The commission may then vote to designate, to deny designation, to request further information, or to make any other decision.

(h) Additional evidence. If designation of a property is denied, the owner or applicant may present additional evidence at any time for the commission's reconsideration. The new evidence will be considered by the commission at a duly-noticed meeting.

(i) Additional hearings. Any owner of a property designated as a landmark who is aggrieved by the designation procedure as applied to his or her property will receive a full evidentiary hearing upon request, or the formal designation can be removed by action of the commission.

(j) Notification of designation. Written notification of the commission's decision regarding the designation of a property as a landmark will be forwarded to the owner.

(k) Listing and marking of landmarks. If a property is officially designated as a landmark, the property will be listed in the commission's inventory, a current list of all historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts so designated. Landmarks may be marked with a marker or medallion, to be installed by commission staff or designee.

(1) Archeological sites designated as landmarks may be marked with a landmark marker, if deemed appropriate by the commission. The UTM coordinate of the marker will be retained in the commission's records.

(2) Historic buildings and structures designated as landmarks may be marked with a medallion bearing the words "State Antiquities Landmark". Third-party nominators shall pay the cost associated with the medallion. A photograph of the installed medallion showing its context will be retained in the commission's records.

(l) Privileged or restricted information. The location of archeological sites is not public information. However, information on sites may be disclosed to qualified professionals as provided by Chapter 24 of this title (relating to Restricted Cultural Resource Information).

(m) For previously designated landmarks, commission staff may propose an amendment to clarify the designation boundaries, nature of the property's significance, or other information pertinent to the designation. The commission shall follow the process in this section in considering such an amendment.

Rule 26.9: Designation of Private Property

(a) Designation procedure. Cultural resources of national, state, or local significance in private ownership may be nominated by individuals or institutions holding title to the property on which the resources are located. The nomination must be submitted to the commission on a form approved by the commission. In addition to the nomination requirements listed in §26.8(a) of this title (relating to Designation Procedures for Publicly Owned Landmarks), the nomination must be accompanied by proof of ownership, such as a deed record. The nomination form shall contain language that expressly states the owner's consent to landmark designation by signing the form. A site, building, or structure on privately owned property, which is designated as a landmark by the commission, is afforded the same protection under the Antiquities Code of Texas as resources on public property. The nomination and designation hearing process for the designation of privately owned property will follow the same basic procedures set forth in §26.8 of this title.

(b) Recordation and marking of landmarks on private property. Upon designation, the commission shall record the property owner's consent and notice of the designation in the deed records of the county in which the property is located, provide the property owner with a copy of the filed instrument, and retain a copy of the filed instrument in the commission's records. Landmarks shall be marked with a marker or medallion, to be installed by commission staff or designee immediately after designation.

(1) Archeological sites designated as landmarks shall be marked with a landmark marker. The UTM coordinate of the marker will be retained in the commission's records.

(2) Historic buildings and structures designated as landmarks shall be marked with a medallion bearing the words "State Antiquities Landmark". The property owner shall pay the cost associated with the medallion as a condition of designation. A photograph of the installed medallion showing its context will be retained in the commission's records.

Rule 26.10: Criteria for Evaluating Archeological Sites

The commission shall use one or more of the following criteria when assessing the appropriateness of official landmark designation, and/or the need for further investigations under the permit process:

(1) the site has the potential to contribute to a better understanding of the prehistory and/or history of Texas by the addition of new and important information;

(2) the site's archeological deposits and the artifacts within the site are preserved and intact, thereby supporting the research potential or preservation interests of the site;

(3) the site possesses unique or rare attributes concerning Texas prehistory and/or history;

(4) the study of the site offers the opportunity to test theories and methods of preservation, thereby contributing to new scientific knowledge; and

(5) there is a high likelihood that vandalism and relic collecting has occurred or could occur, and official landmark designation is needed to ensure maximum legal protection, or alternatively, further investigations are needed to mitigate the effects of vandalism and relic collecting when the site cannot be protected.

Rule 26.11: Criteria for Evaluating Shipwrecks

Shipwrecks may be considered significant and be recognized or designated as landmarks provided that the following conditions are met:

(1) the shipwreck is located on land owned or controlled by the State of Texas or one of its political subdivisions;

(2) the shipwreck is pre-twentieth century or is otherwise historically significant and is 50 years old or older in age; and

(3) the remains consist of a shipwreck sunken, abandoned, or a wreck of the sea, or are represented by the ship's remains and/or contents or related embedded treasure.

Rule 26.12: Criteria for Evaluating Caches and Collections

Caches and collections may be considered significant and be recognized or designated as landmarks, provided that at least one of the following conditions is met:

(1) the cache or collection was assembled with public funds or taken from public lands;

(2) preservation of materials is adequate to allow the application of standard archeological or conservation techniques;

(3) the cache or collection is of research value, thereby contributing to scientific knowledge; or

(4) the cache or collection is of historic value or contributes to a theme.

Rule 26.19: Criteria for Evaluating Historic Structures

Buildings, structures, cultural landscapes, and non-archeological sites, objects, and districts may be designated as landmarks, provided that the following conditions are met:

(1) the property fits within at least one of the following criteria:

(A) the property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, including importance to a particular cultural or ethnic group;

(B) the property is associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;

(C) the property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, represents the work of a master, possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction;

(D) the property has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in Texas culture or history;

(2) the property retains integrity at the time of the nomination, as determined by the executive director of the commission; and

(3) for buildings and structures only, the property must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, either individually, or as a contributing property within a historic district. Contributing status may be determined by the Keeper of the National Register or the executive director of the commission.