Office of Historic Preservation Works to Protect California’s Rich History, Resources


  • State Parks Office Protector of Golden State’s Historic Resources
  • Leads Multifaceted Efforts to Document, Register Historic Resources
  • Programs Monitor, Guide and Incentivize to Promote Preservation

Did you know that California State Parks has an office dedicated to maintaining the Golden State’s historic resources?

In today’s Transformation Tuesday message, we want to introduce you to the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP).

OHP is the lead agency for preserving the Golden State’s history by maintaining its historic resources. The office administers and implements a variety of historic preservation programs in California to monitor and protect resources and encourage communities to value their historic resources.

Their efforts are guided by the four essential components of historic preservation:

  • Identification – Of resources including buildings and structures, districts, archeological sites, ships, etc.
  • Evaluation – Of national and state resources for significance.
  • Registration – Reviewing nominations and assisting in registering historic resources.
  • Protection – Reviewing federal, state and other types of projects for impacts on historic resources and working to prevent or mitigate loss of resources. Administering programs to provide incentives to preserve or reuse historic resources.

The OHP either directly administers or indirectly influences most local, state and federal preservation programs.

The office is responsible for:

  • Four historical resource registration programs;
  • Works with federal, state, and local agencies regarding their responsibilities under federal and state law to consider historical resources in project planning, funding, and permitting;
  • Assists local governments with the creation and administration of city and county preservation programs;
  • Administers the federal rehabilitation tax credit program in California;
  • Maintains a digital inventory of historical resources in the state (buildings, archeological sites, etc.)
  • In addition to many other programs and projects related to preservation.

Currently one special project the office is working on involves the development of a statewide historic context statement related to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California, which is intended to facilitate more nominations of properties associated with these cultural groups to the National Register of Historic Places and follows on the heels of a similar context developed a few years ago related to Latinos in Twentieth Century California. The office is also in the midst of developing a new Statewide Historic Preservation Plan for California, which will guide preservation priorities and efforts in the state from 2018 through 2022.

The office is headed by the State Historic Preservation Officer, Julianne Polanco, and is under the broad oversight authority of the State Historical Resources Commission, a nine-member board appointed by the Governor. The commission meets quarterly in various locations throughout the state.

The genesis of the OHP began in 1953 with the establishment of the History Section of the then-Division of Beaches and Parks. In 1975 the office was officially created within the offices of the Director of California State Parks. The formation of the OHP was an outgrowth of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which called for the creation of a state agency to implement provisions of that law.

Thank you to all of the staff at OHP and commissioners for maintaining the Golden State’s historic resources.

To learn more about the OHP, visit our website at One item of interest is our webinars, which have been recorded and can be watched at You can request to join our email list by sending a message to

Image pictured above: The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) is housed in the historic Charles S. Greene building. Partially funded by a gift from Andrew Carnegie, the Beaux-Arts style building served as Oakland’s main library from 1902 to 1951. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has served as home to the AAMLO since 2002. (photo courtesy jshiga/Oakland Public Library)


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