Federal and state laws protecting historic properties and archeological sites require consultation with the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Each year, the agency’s team of project reviewers process thousands of projects to assess the potential effects on historic resources statewide.
Reviewers from three divisions within the THC—the Archeology Division, the History Programs Division, and the Division of Architecture—work together to conduct these reviews. Depending on several factors, including the scope of the project, the location, the federal or state agencies involved, and whether historic resources are present, review by an archeologist, historian, and/or architectural reviewer may be required.
Please consult the list of agencies and counties on the Project Reviewers contact page to determine who will be assigned to your project or who to contact with any questions.
Archeology Division (AD) review staff is primarily concerned about subsurface disturbances within a project footprint, which may impact archeological sites. They assess proposed project areas for known archeological sites, whether previous archeological investigations have been conducted there, and whether there is potential for buried archeological sites. Most projects are determined to have no effect on significant archeological sites.
If the project area has not been surveyed and it contains landforms with elevated probability for buried archeological sites or it is situated in an area with known historical habitation or use, the reviewer will recommend a survey be conducted. For federal projects, the survey needs to be undertaken by professionals who meet the Secretary of the Interior's Professional Qualifications Standards. For surveys on Texas public lands performed under the Antiquities Code of Texas, professionals must meet the qualifications for a Principal Investigator (PI) found in Chapter 26 of the Texas Administrative Code, available in Statutes, Regulations, and Rules. See Hiring a Preservation Consultant for information on how to find a qualified professional for your project. If you are new to working in Texas, please review the THC guidelines for Regulatory Archeology in Texas. For projects occurring on property owned or controlled by the State of Texas or a political subdivision of the state, the PI will need to apply for and receive a Texas Antiquities permit from the THC Archeology Division prior to performing any archeological work for the project. More information about this process can be found on the Regulatory Archeology in Texas page.
Once a survey is complete, a technical report of investigations is submitted to the THC for review. The AD reviewer will concur with the results and recommendations or request additional work if warranted. If archeological sites are discovered that are eligible or potentially eligible for historic designation (listing in the National Register of Historic Places or as a State Antiquities Landmark), AD review staff will discuss measures to avoid or mitigate the effect of the project on the archeological site.
Review of Standing Structures
Review under Section 106 and the Antiquities Code of Texas
Staff from the THC History Programs Division (HPD) review projects that have the potential to affect any building, structure, site, object, or district that is 45 years of age or older, and they work to determine if the project area contains any historic properties.
For federal undertakings that are subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, HPD staff review if the project’s area of potential effect (APE) is appropriate to account for any direct and indirect effects. Then HPD staff considers if any aboveground historic properties within the APE that are listed in, or are eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places. This may require information from the project applicant, a historic resources survey from the federal agency, additional research by THC staff, or consultation with other stakeholders.
If there are historic properties present within the APE, the project will be forwarded to a Division of Architecture (DOA) reviewer to assess the effects of the project on those historic properties. The review staff within the Division of Architecture evaluate the information submitted for the proposed project and determine whether the federal agency has considered alternatives to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects to the historic properties.
For projects proposed on non-federal public land that are subject to the Antiquities Code of Texas, HPD staff review if the project will have a direct effect on any historic properties that are designated as, or eligible for designation as, a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL). If there are any such historic properties directly affected, the project will be forwarded to a Division of Architecture reviewer to determine if a SAL permit for Historic Buildings and Structures will be required. The Division of Architecture reviewers communicate with the property owner to confirm the scope of work and determine the necessity of a permit application. If the proposed work exceeds normal maintenance or repair, then a Historic Buildings and Structures permit will be required before work may proceed.
Review under Historic Designations and Other Protections
Project reviewers in the Division of Architecture (DOA) review work to historic properties under a variety of protections, including the State Antiquities Landmark and Recorded Texas Historic Landmark designations and preservation covenants and easements. The Courthouse Law requires that the building owner of a property that serves or has served as a county courthouse notify the THC of its intentional changes, whether alterations, sale, lease or demolition of the county courthouse at least six months in advance. Courthouses and other historic properties that have received funding through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation and Texas Preservation Trust Fund grant programs are reviewed under the rules and procedures outlined in the program’s grant manual.
Reviews are conducted by architects and project reviewers based on application of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and accompanying guidelines issued by the National Park Service that establish best practices for historic preservation nationwide. Based on the type of review, staff will provide guidance, recommendations, or conditions to bring the project into conformance with these standards.
For More Information
For information on how to submit your project, please see What to Send for a Project Review. If you have questions regarding what to submit or how the THC reviews projects, please contact the applicable project reviewer for your agency or county.