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Historic Preservation History

In its preface to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, Congress declared that the preservation of historic properties "is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations of Americans."

In Oklahoma, the State Historic Preservation Office is the agency authorized to carry out the responsibilities of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. These activities include: Section 106 Review and Compliance, reviewing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, overseeing the state's architectural and archaeological survey programs, managing Oklahoma's Certified Local Government Program, reviewing federal historic tax credit applications, and administering Historic Preservation Grant programs. The Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, also oversees the Centennial Farm and Ranch program.

In 1970, the first State Historic Preservation Officer, George Shirk, prepared the first Oklahoma Statewide Historic Sites Survey and Preservation Plan. Many states, including Oklahoma, had their plans approved by the National Park Service in 1970. The newest version of the comprehensive statewide historic preservation plan, Sooner Rather Than Later: Let's Preserve Oklahoma's Past (www.okhistory.org/shpo/stateplan) was approved in late 2019 to address preservation goals and needs through December 31, 2024. The broad goals established in the planning process are joined in this document with a series of objectives and actions that can be taken by individuals, local preservation groups or government agencies to preserve and increase appreciation for our state's historic properties. The plan recognizes that these groups share a vision, but each play a different role in preserving the history and historic places of our state and communities.

To read about the history of preservation in Oklahoma and more, click on the image below for the Fall 2016 preservation issue of The Chronicles of Oklahoma.