Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.
Q. Is my property Listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
A: To see if your property is already listed, please click here, and then click on the corresponding County.
Q: How do I get a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places
A: To get your property listed in the National Register, please click here. [Temporarily unavailable. Please check back soon.]
Q: How do I find historical information about my property?
A: To find out ways to research your property Preserve America. Commercial properties eligible for or listed in the National Register may qualify for the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit.
Q: What is a File Search and how do I request one? Is there a charge?
A: A file search is when our office searches the State Antiquities Database to see whether or not archaeological or historic sites have been recorded in a particular location. The file search also includes a search of any previous inventories that may have been conducted in a particular location. To request a file search please fill out a File Search Request form and email it in to Damon Murdo ( along with a copy of a map showing the project location.
Q: How do I request a Smithsonian Number?
A: Please contact the SHPO Site Records Office at (406) 444-4724.  You will need to complete the required information portion of the Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS) form and attach a copy of a 7.5' Quad map showing the site location to receive a number.
Q: How do I request copies of previous Inventories and Site Forms?
A: To request copies of previously conducted cultural resource inventories you can fill out a Inventory Report request and send to Damon Murdo,  Because of their size inventory reports will need to be uploaded to the State File Transfer Service for retrieval.  Inventory reports will cost $1/MB of data.
A: To request copies of site forms, please fill out a Data Request Form and email it in. The site forms will be sent to you as pdf’s via email, or the State File Transfer Service. Each request will cost $5/Site Form.
Q: How do I find a list of Consultants in Montana?
A: The MT SHPO maintains a list of consultants who meet the Secretary of Interiors standards for Archaeology and Historic Preservation. To view the list click here. If you would like to be added to our list of consultants please send your address, the services you provide (see consultants list), and a resume to
National Register of Historic Places
Q: What is Section 106?
A:Section 106 is the portion of the National Historic Preservation Act where Federal Agencies are required to take into account, during the planning process, the effects of their actions on Historic Properties and to afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment on that agency consideration. Federal Agencies, then, are required by law to take steps to identify Historic Properties which may be affected by their actions and to follow procedures to minimize or avoid effects. To learn more about Section 106 or how to consult with the Montana SHPO please see our Guidelines and Procedures planning bulletin.
Q: What are the procedures for Section 106 as it relates to Cell Tower construction?
A: Cell tower construction may have visual impacts on historic resources and may effect archaeological sites. FCC licenses and certifications for cell towers are federal actions subject to compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Click here for the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's "Learning Unit" which will assist interested parties in understanding the National Programmatic Agreement for Review of Effects on Historic Properties, or Click here to view the Montana SHPO Guidelines for cell tower review.
Q: How do I know if I have an undertaking that requires me to do consultation under Section 106?
A: An undertaking means a project, activity, or program funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency. Undertakings requiring consideration under the National Historic Preservation Act are: (A) those carried out by or on behalf of the agency; (B) those carried out with Federal Financial assistance; (C) those requiring a Federal permit, license, or approval; and (D) those subject to State or local regulation administered pursuant to a delegation or approval by a Federal agency.
Q: Does the SHPO have a grant program for owners of historic homes?
A: The SHPO does not administer a grant for historic home preservation. The only grant programs for homeowners that we are aware of are from HUD and USDA-RD. Homeowners looking for financial assistance should contact these agencies directly with inquiries.
Q: What tax incentives are available for preserving my historic building?
A: The SHPO administers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit at the state level and is the liaison between applicants and the Federal Government. This tax credit equals 20% of the applicant's rehab investment in their historic income producing building. The State of Montana offers a state tax credit equal to 5% of the applicant's rehab investment.
Local governments may adopt a property tax abatement program for the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Contact your local government to determine if they offer this program.
Q: I want to do work on my National Register listed property; do I need to consult with the SHPO?
A: Owners of National Register listed properties may do what they wish with their private property and private funding. If property owners use federal dollars, federal incentive programs, or do work that requires a federal permit, the federal agency must consult with SHPO under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. State agencies that own historic properties must consult with SHPO under the Montana State Antiquities Act. Local governments might also have design guidelines that property owners are required to follow.
Q: I want to rehabilitate my historic building; how can I do that and maintain the property's historic character?
A: Property owners are encouraged to contact the SHPO with questions about best practices in preservation and historically sensitive rehabilitation. The SHPO recommends and will advise owners to let the building's history and architecture speak for itself and not be the subject of conjectural embellishment. We recommend that owners planning a rehabilitation project review the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Q: What is the role that Tribal Historic Preservation Offices have in projects off their reservations?
A:THPOs take the place of SHPOs on reservation lands - meaning that agencies must consult with the Tribe and have their concurrence before proceeding with a project unless the agency instead gets that concurrence from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Tribes have an important consultation role for non reservation lands they traditionally used and/or have reserved Treaty rights in. That means an agency must consult with them about projects on those patrimonial lands but Tribal concurrence is not required when deciding to proceed or not.
Q: What do I do if I find a unmarked/marked burials or human remains?
A:Click here if unmarked human remains/bones are located.
   Click here if you have questions on buried/marked remains (PDF) or cemeteries.
Q: Do I own the artifacts on my land? What about on public lands?
A:In Montana, artifacts belong to the landowner; therefore private land means private owner and public land means public agency owner. If you find an artifact on land you do not own you should always contact the land owner before doing anything else. There is one important legal exception to this basic ownership rule. If artifacts were left with a human burial they are not owned by the land owner. Neither the human remains or any artifact found with them can be owned - they are not property abandoned. If you think you have found something like that you are required by law to contact the local coroner and/or the State Archaeologist (444-7719) after securing the site as best you can.
Q:Does my Cultural Resource Consulting firm need a Montana permit?
A:The Montana State Antiquities Act applies to projects on state lands only. The Act provides, in part, for the review of agency proposed projects and mitigation plans by the SHPO and the issuance of Antiquities Permits (required only for the excavation, removal, or restoration of any Heritage Property on state lands). If you are working on state lands e.g. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Universities or the Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation, etc., you must consult directly with that agency. If a need for an Antiquities Permit develops, the agency will consult directly with the State Archaeologist. Inventory and testing work generally does not require a state Permit. If you work on federal lands you will likely need an ARPA permit from the land managing agency but no Montana state permit is necessary.
Q: Where can we find out about "digs" happening in Montana?
A:There is no single place to check. The best bets would be local land management agencies like the BLM or Forest Service and their Passport in Time program. There is also a program called Project Archaeology which acts like a clearing house for much of that kind of information.