Tennessee Historical and Architectural Resources Survey

by Kerri Ross and Peggy Nickell

Following Congressional passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, the Tennessee Historical Commission, as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), expanded its duties to include a survey program responsible for keeping an inventory of all properties at least 50 years or older to build awareness of the significance of historic resources and increase support for preservation statewide. This ongoing inventory program includes sites, structures, buildings, objects and districts.  Residential, commercial, public spaces, and industrial areas are surveyed. Historic resource surveys are an important tool for state and federal programs, such as the environmental review process known as Section 106 and the nomination process for the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the survey data is used by government agencies for planning and development purposes and provides counties with historic records of various time periods.

In recent years, survey data was collected on a paper form and entered into a geodatabase that provided survey information to the public. THC created a digital format for collecting data using the Survey123 application, which launched August 2020 and replaces the paper form. This application has made the survey process more accessible to consultants, local planning departments, and it has streamlined the data collection process. This fall, Survey staff assisted and trained Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) parks staff on the new application so they can survey historic resources within the state parks to improve and enhance their management policies. We look forward to working with other agencies and local governments to use the new survey tool to add to our understanding of Tennessee’s architectural past.   

Please visit the Tennessee Historical Commission’s website for more Tennessee Historical and Architectural Resources Survey program information.


The evolution of Tennessee’s survey forms and formats: (left to right) the Tennessee Historical and Architectural Survey Forms from the late 1960s through the 1970s (first 3), the computer punch card from the 1980s, the Tennessee Historical and Architectural Resource 4-page form CN-0601 (Rev. 9-92) used in the 1990s and the new Tennessee Historical and Architectural Resource data collector application (app) in ESRI Survey123 that was released in August of 2020. The red-colored map shows the density of 168,371 surveyed resources in the state as of June 2020. The booklet is the National Park Service Bulletin that includes information and instruction regarding survey.