The THC Official Texas Historical Marker Program, inaugurated in 1962, includes both the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark (RTHL) and subject marker programs. More than 15,000 markers now have been placed across the state, including 3,600 RTHL markers.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks are properties judged to be historically and architecturally significant. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) awards RTHL designation to buildings at least 50 years old that are worthy of preservation for their architectural and historical associations.
This is a designation that comes with a measure of protection under state law. The purchase and display of the RTHL marker is a required component of the designation process. The owner’s consent is required to nominate a property as a RTHL. Please refer to the Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks brochure for a full explanation of the designation and its legal requirements.
Criteria for Designation
Buildings or other historic structures may be eligible for RTHL designation upon reaching 50 years of age. In some cases, structures older than 50 years that have been altered may be eligible, if those alterations occurred at least 50 years ago and took place during a significant period of the structure’s history.
As with applications for subject markers, it is the responsibility of the applicant to establish, through written and photographic documentation, the historical significance of a structure.
In reviewing applications for RTHL designation, the THC considers not only the historic persons or events associated with a structure, but also the architectural integrity of the building or structure. The structure should maintain its appearance from its period of historical significance and should be an exemplary model of preservation. In no case can a structure be considered for the RTHL designation if it has been moved in the past 50 years or if artificial (aluminum, vinyl, asbestos, etc.) siding applied to its exterior within the preceding 50 years covers and/or alters its historic architectural materials or features.
For more information on the RTHL designation process, please contact the state historical markers program coordinator.
Project Review for RTHLs
According to the provisions of Texas Government Code, Chapter 442, Section 442.006 (f), the exterior appearance of RTHL buildings and structures should retain their historical integrity after designation. A person may not change the historical or architectural integrity of a building or structure the commission has designated as a RTHL without notifying the commission in writing at least 60 days before the date on which the action causing the change is to begin. The THC has review authority on the exterior of the building or structure. Under the RTHL regulations the THC has no review authority over most interior changes unless the proposed changes have the potential to affect the exterior of the building or structure. Unsympathetic alterations to RTHL properties may result in the removal of the designation and marker. Rules governing RTHL review can be found in Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Chapter 26, Rule 21.11.
Even though the RTHL legislation gives the THC 60 days to review the proposed work, all reviews take place no greater than 30 days from the date the THC receives the project documentation. The THC reviews proposed changes to RTHL buildings and structures by applying the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The one-page handout Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks: Review of Proposed Changes further describes this review process. For more information, please contact your county's Division of Architecture project reviewer.
Example of an RTHL Review
Located in Round Rock, the Old Broom Factory Building was built in 1876 and originally housed a general mercantile and furniture store. The building housed the Round Rock Broom Company from circa 1887 to 1912, and a broom made in this building won a gold medal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. After the broom factory departed the building housed a variety of other uses, such as a school, skating rink, and automobile repair shop. The limestone building with distinctive stepped front parapet and keystone arch door and window openings was restored in 1969 and designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1970.
A new owner purchased the building in 2010 and initially submitted a proposal to the THC to replace all of the deteriorated wood windows in the building with new window units. The THC and Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Round Rock reviewed the owner’s proposal and determined that the windows appeared to be historic wood double-hung windows. The THC recommended to the owner that the windows should be repaired instead of being replaced and provided technical guidance to modify the project to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
The owner located a local contractor who evaluated the condition of the existing historic wood windows and changed the project scope of work to repair and not replace the historic windows. The contractor finished repairing and repainting the windows in 2011, extending the life of the over-100-year-old windows and saving them from a landfill.
Technical Assistance and Guidance
In addition to reviewing project proposals, the review staff in the THC Division of Architecture is available to provide technical assistance and guidance to the owners of RTHL properties. The staff is able to recommend ways to help preserve historic properties for future generations, such as helping to assess the physical deterioration of a building or structure, helping guide rehabilitation or restoration efforts, and suggesting funding tools. Please note that our services are advisory in nature and are not intended or able to substitute for services provided by licensed design professionals such as architects and engineers. For more information please contact your county's Division of Architecture project reviewer.