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California Historical Landmarks

California Historical Landmarks are sites, buildings, features, or events that are of statewide significance and have anthropological, cultural, military, political, architectural, economic, scientific or technical, religious, experimental, or other value. The specific standards now in use were first applied in the designation of Landmark # 770.  California Historical Landmarks #770 and above are automatically listed in the California Register of Historical Resources.

To be designated as a California Historical Landmark, a resource must meet at least one of the criteria listed below; have the approval of the property owner(s); be recommended by the State Historical Resources Commission; and be officially designated by the Director of California State Parks.

If a site is primarily of local interest, it may meet the criteria for the California Points of Historical Interest Program.


Criteria for Designation

To be eligible for designation as a Landmark, a resource must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The first, last, only, or most significant of its type in the state or within a large geographic region (Northern, Central, or Southern California).
  • Associated with an individual or group having a profound influence on the history of California.
  • A prototype of, or an outstanding example of, a period, style, architectural movement or construction or is one of the more notable works or the best surviving work in a region of a pioneer architect, designer or master builder.
  • Effects of Designation

  • Limited protection: Environmental review may be required under California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) if property is threatened by a project. Contact your local planning agency for more information.
  • Local assessor may enter into contract with property owner for property tax reduction (Mills Act).
  • Local building inspector must grant code alternative provided under State Historic Building Code. Registration will be recorded on the property deed.
  • Automatic listing in California Register of Historical Resources.
  • Bronze plaque at site (underwritten by local sponsor) ordered through OHP; highway directional sign available through local Department of Transportation (Caltrans) district office.
  • Procedures for Designation

    1. Download a Nomination Packet, including TAS Bulletin 13, a Cover Sheet, and the appropriate DPR 523 forms as outlined in Bulletin 13.  Only use the DPR 523 Forms applicable to the nominated resource.  If you need assistance contact Registration Unit staff.

    2. Obtain written consent from the property owner(s) for the nomination.  Written consent from the property owner(s) is required for designation. If a plaque is requested, written permission of property owner(s) to place the plaque on his or her property must be stated in the letter.

    3. Complete application according to instructions.

    4. Submit cover letter, written consent from property owner(s), nomination, photographs, and maps to OHP for review. 

    5. Nominations will be reviewed by OHP staff.  Those that do not have written consent from the property owner(s), are inadequate or are not prepared according to the instructions will be returned to the applicant for further work.

    6. OHP notifies all applicants, property owners and appropriate governmental jurisdictions of the time and place of the SHRC meeting.

    7. If approved by the SHRC, the nomination is forwarded to the Director of California State Parks for final approval.


    Owner Consent

    Written consent of property owner(s) is required for designation.


    Local Government Notification

    The local government in whose jurisdiction the resource is located will be given 60 days to comment upon the application before the nomination is considered by the State Historical Resources Commission.