The bedrock of preservation planning and actions, a thorough local survey forms the basis for many preservation decisions. Survey reports, files, and maps are maintained as a permanent record with many long-term benefits: they permit evaluation of properties for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places; facilitate decision-making about the potential impact of government funded or licensed projects on historic properties; benefit protection of local districts and properties by local preservation commissions; and boost private investment in renovation and preservation of historic buildings for new uses. Over the years, architectural surveys in town after town and county after county have provided the first step toward preservation success stories--directing new attention to familiar sights and encouraging citizens to rescue long neglected houses, rejuvenate traditional neighborhoods, and focus new investment in the economy and quality of life in historic town centers.
Since the mid-1970s, almost three quarters of the state's 100 counties have participated in comprehensive historic building surveys, and twenty-two counties have joined in regional reconnaissance surveys. More than sixty municipalities have conducted surveys independently of their surrounding counties. Most surveys are conducted by trained consultants working through the section's federal grant program to local governments.
Over fifty county surveys and thirty-seven municipal surveys have been published. The Survey and National Register Branch is the repository of historic buildings survey records, and maintains files on an estimated 125,000 historic buildings, with over 2,000 files typically added to the collection annually.
The branch has developed a Geographic Information System (GIS) for computer mapping of the statewide historic building survey, known as HPOWEB.
Offices of the Survey and National Register Branch are located on the second floor (east side) of the Archives/State Library Building at 109 E. Jones St., Raleigh, 27601. Visitors are encouraged to call in advance to ensure that staff will be available to provide assistance. See the Visitation Policy.