Written by Cory Jensen
At the Utah State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) I’m frequently contacted by property owners curious about getting their building listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Before I can recommend that they move forward with a nomination there are three questions I always ask: is the property at least 50 years old? Does it have good historical integrity (meaning minor alteration at most)? And, most importantly, does it have historical or architectural significance?
The significance requirement is typically the most difficult part to prove. You may have an old house with good historical integrity, but the significance is not super stellar and could use a boost. This is where the Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) can come in handy. A MPDF is basically a cover document under which a nomination is prepared that provides additional background context for a chosen topic. The context can focus on topics as broad as the historical and architectural development of an entire city or as narrow as a specific cultural group, architectural type, or any other area of significance under which a property could be nominated. There are other components of an MPDF that also provide guidelines for associated property types, their significance and registration requirements .
When a nomination is written for a property associated with a particular MPDF, the added context can enhance the nomination, making it more likely to get listed. And when the nomination is sent to the National Register for review under an MPDF, it is called a Multiple Property Submission (MPS). The Utah SHPO reviews nominations for several properties each year that are submitted under a particular MPS. Once the National Register Office reviews and approves a new MPS and lists the nomination(s) submitted with it, then future properties can be nominated under the approved MPS.
Utah has several different multiple property submissions. As mentioned, these range from contexts for entire cities, specific types of architecture, various cultures, uses (bridges, canals, power plants, etc.), and archaeology. If you’re curious you can find them on our website, where you will also find other historical contexts that are not written specifically as MPDFs. One of the most recent MPDFs that was prepared with a National Park Service grant for Underrepresented Communities is the Historic Latinx Resources in Utah, 1876-1942. This was recently submitted to the National Register for review along with an accompanying nomination for the Mexican Branch LDS Meetinghouse in Salt Lake City.