Last week, we posted a discussion on the differences between the different kinds of historic districts, and about some of the benefits of owning a property in a historic district. Having a property listed on the National Register lends a certain air of dignity and importance to a house that can be very useful in marketing. There is no better way to announce your house’s status to prospective buyers than with one of the distinctive historic register plaques by the front entrance. The plaques also make great closing gifts for buyers who have purchased a house that is on the National Register, or within a National Register district.
The National Park Servive administers the National Register, but doesn’t get involved with plaques for properties. There is no application process and no qualifying needed. Homeowners are responsible for getting their own plaque if they desire one. There isn’t even an “official” wording for the plaque, but the most common inscription is “This property has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior” (for an individual house). For a house that is part of a Historic District, the most frequently-used wording is “This property is part of the Cool Spring Park Historic District, placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.”
There are several vendors for the plaques, with catalogs online. One company is The Bronze Plaque. They’ve been in business since 1987, and offer the bronze plaques you most often see on public buildings and on prominent historic homes. The bronzes can be pricey, ranging from $350 -$900. Plaques & Letters has some similar offerings at similar prices, but also have quite a few custom options available for adding historical text, images, maps, etc. Erie Landmarks is a very respected name in the business, and has a unique Arts & Crafts-inspired font on on one of their plaques. Franklin Bronze Plaques has the larger plaques that the other two offer, but also has smaller bronze plaques perfect for placing next to the front door, and they start out at $60.
Finally, Colonial Brass in Taunton, Massachusetts, has been manufacturing sundials since the 1700s. They originally used the local bog iron ore and cast the sundials for shipment as far away as New Orleans. (perhaps the Spanish Custom House has one ?) They also cast Historic Register plaques in both bronze and aluminum. The plaque pictured at right is a pretty common National Register marker in New England. It’s distinctive and the blue color demands more attention than some of the other all-bronze plaques, but it’s diffcult to find a manufacturer that casts them. Well, Colonial Brass has them, although they’re a special order and you’ll need to give them a call for pricing at 1-800-549-8670.