Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama SHPO

Survey Program

Architectural surveys identify, document, and evaluate a community's physical historic resources. A survey is the basic step in creating a realistic preservation program, both at the state and local level. The survey is a practical planning tool. Knowing your historical assets is the first step in keeping them from disappearing. You can learn how to use them to your advantage and to your children's advantage.  A survey will preserve for posterity a record of your area's material history. Surveys can provide the information needed to find out what resources or groups of resources are eligible for listing in the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage or the National Register of Historic Places.

List of the Architectural Survey Files

AHC Architectural Survey Guidelines

AHC's Building Survey Form

Instructions for Completing the AHC Building Survey Form

List of County Abbreviations for Survey Form

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an architectural survey entail?  
Survey work is generally broken down into two parts: Doing research on the history of the community and actually documenting the historic resources. Completing the architectural survey forms, taking photographs, and recording the location of the resources on a detailed map accomplishes these steps.

We target a wide variety of resources to survey, however most have to be 50 years or older. Frequently, there are misconceptions of what exactly is an architecturally or historically significant property. Some people find it hard to believe the old buildings in their hometown are significant, because, day after day, they walk by them and see nothing more than just an old building. It is just something we take for granted. Not only do we survey mansions, but we also focus on modest neighborhoods and houses, churches, schools, cemeteries, public buildings, commercial buildings, outbuildings, bridges, and recreational resources.  

Why is it important to hire a professional historic preservation consultant to perform the survey?  
By having an expert take part in your survey, you may discover those buildings you never thought of as important are in some way very significant. They will help you understand how your area developed. They also help in understanding some element of the past that gives a truer expression of how things really were.
A thorough examination of the countryside may result in finding resources that no one had thought about for years, but that are of importance.

Where can I find a professional to perform an architectural survey?
The Alabama Historical Commission does not maintain a list of historic preservation consultants who do work in Alabama. Please visit the following website to find a consultant:

How much does a survey cost?
The cost will depend upon how many historic resources your community has and upon the consultant. It is best to contact the consultant and ask how much he or she has charged to survey similar-sized communities.

If you did not find your questions addressed here, please contact Lee Anne Wofford, Survey Coordinator, at (334) 230-2659 or

The Alabama Historical Commission maintains files for the Alabama Register, National Register, Cemetery Register, and Architectural Survey programs. To use the AHC research files, make your appointment at least two days in advance, Monday through Friday, between 8:30am-11:30pm and/or 1pm to 4pm. The AHC is closed state holidays.

When requesting an appointment, please provide the county/counties of interest, an emergency contact number where you can be reached the day of your appointment, and whether you prefer the morning and/or afternoon appointment. Contact Nicole Woods (334)230-2673 to make appointments or for further information.

AHC Research Policy (see attached document)

AHC Copy Policy (see attached document)



Historic Preservation