What is the Sign Program?
The Montana Historical Society's National Register Sign Program improves public knowledge of Montana's rich and colorful heritage, encourages others to seek Register listing, and promotes historic preservation. If you own or represent a property that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Montana Historical Society invites you to participate in our National Register sign program.
Each National Register sign includes a special logo and brief description of the property's historic significance. Since the program began in 1990, more than 1,700 National Register signs have been placed across Montana. Montanans and visitors have come to recognize that a Montana National Register sign marks a place important to the history of our state. This is the only official sign program for the State of Montana and the only one that includes interpretive text detailing the history of your property.
To search for and learn about Montana places through our interpretive sign text, visit Explore Big--Montana's Historic Places. Explore Big is a website and mobile app curated by the Montana Historical Society to interpret the history and architecture of selected buildings, neighborhoods, and cultural sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To read and search all available National Register sign text, download a PDF file here (current through April 15, 2019).
Who Can Apply?
Owners or representatives of individually listed National Register properties
Owners or representatives of listed historic districts
Owners with contributing properties within listed historic districts
How to Apply
To request a National Register sign for your property, please download the form (below) or Apply Online. Mail the application form to the addresses on the bottom of the form.
Please do not send payment with your application. The Montana Historical Society will request payment after you approve your sign text.
National Register Sign Brochure and Application (PDF)
National Register Sign Application (Word)
Note: If you are not sure about your property's status, your local government preservation office (planning office) can answer your questions. If your community does not have a preservation office, contact the State Historic Preservation Office: 406-444-7715 or email@example.com.
Sign Types and Costs
All plaques are pewter-finished anodized aluminum with dark etched letters and are designed to withstand harsh weather.
- TYPE A 20" X 24" Individually listed or historic district overview, $55
- TYPE B 13" X 16" Contributing property within a historic district, $35
- TYPE C Two 8" X 12" panels. Only for buildings with limited space. One panel features the National Register logo. The other features the interpretive text. Panels are stacked, one above the other on the wall. If you plan to mount your sign in a narrow space, you may want to order the "Type C" sign.
All plaques are drilled for wall mounting. Post mounts are $7 extra. Applicants provide the threaded metal post. See installation instructions below.
After a property owner submits an application, Historical Society staff carefully craft each interpretive sign text, drawing from the site's National Register of Historic Places nomination and a variety of other primary and secondary resources. Each text is designed to highlight the property's distinctive history and pique the reader's interest. Applicants will receive a draft text for review and approval prior to preparation of final sign copy.
Applications are processed in order of receipt and on the basis of geographic distribution, so some time may elapse before applicants receive text for approval. After an owner approves the text and submits payment, signs are submitted to the manufacturer. Applicants can expect to receive their signs eight to ten weeks after final approval of the text.
Mounting instructions can be found here.
Applicants are responsible for installing their signs outside, where the public can enjoy them, within a reasonable time of receiving their order. Owners or sponsoring organizations pay less than 10% of sign manufacturing costs. The Montana Historical Society pays for all other costs (including research/writing time) with its allocated portion of the Accommodations Tax.
For more information on the sign program, contact Martha Kohl, National Register sign Program Coordinator at 406-444-4740; firstname.lastname@example.org; Christine Brown, Outreach & Interpretation Historian at 406-444-1687; email@example.com. Please mail sign application to Martha Kohl, National Register Sign Program, Montana Historical Society, 225 N. Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201.