National Register Sign Program

What is the Sign Program?

The Montana Historical Society's National Register property signs encourage locals and tourists to stop and learn about Montana's rich and colorful heritage, inspire others to seek Register listing, and promote 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 purchase a National Register sign. Signs cost from $35 to $62 each (see details below).

Each National Register sign includes a special logo and brief description of the property's historic significance. Since the program began in 1990, nearly 1,800 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.

HistoricMT logo637179159148461370To find more information about Montana places through our interpretive sign text, visit Historic Montana, the MHS National Register signs website, or download the app. Historic Montana offers the historical sign text for all MHS National Register of Historic Places signs and includes hundreds of "then and now" photographs and links to further reading. 
 

Who Can Apply?

Owners or representatives of individually listed National Register properties
Owners or representatives of listed historic districts
Owners of 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)

Apply Online
 

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 John Boughton at the State Historic Preservation Office: 406-444-7715 or jboughton@mt.gov.

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, $35. 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.

TYPE A TYPE B

 

The Process

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.

Sending Photos

Property owners are encouraged to submit "then" and/or "now" photographs for publication in the Historic Montana website and app. Email jpeg files along with the full property address to Christine.brown@mt.gov or mail copies to Christine Brown, Montana Historical Society, PO Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620. Don't send originals. Copies will be returned. Email attachments larger than 10 MB will be blocked. You can also read and/or search most of the sign text by downloading the PDF file here (current through April 15, 2019).  

 

Installation

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; mkohl@mt.gov; Christine Brown, Outreach & Interpretation Historian at 406-444-1687; christine.brown@mt.gov. 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.