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MassGIS Data: MHC Historic Inventory

June 2024

The MACRIS Maps online mapping application displays historic resources included in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) maintained by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC).

Table of Contents



The act of checking this MACRIS Maps datalayer, MHC's on-line MACRIS database, or any other electronic data or record, does not substitute for compliance with applicable local, state, or federal laws and regulations. If you are representing a developer and/or a proposed project that will require a permit, license or funding from any state or federal agency, you must submit a Project Notification Form (PNF) to MHC for review and comment. You may obtain a copy of a PNF through the MHC web site https://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/ under the subject heading "MHC Forms". Common questions regarding MHC review are addressed at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/mhcrevcom/revcomidx.htm under the subject heading “Frequently Asked Questions”.


Information on archaeological resources is not a public record and is excluded from these datalayers. Researchers and project planners seeking information on archaeological resources should contact MHC archaeology staff.

The MACRIS Maps online mapping application displays historic resources included in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) (https://mhc-macris.net/) maintained by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC).

This public layer consists of points and polygons representing information from the MACRIS database and related records on file at the MHC, including the Inventory of Historic Assets of the Commonwealth, National Register of Historic Places nomination forms, local historic district study reports, local landmark reports, and other materials. The MACRIS database and the layers within the MACRIS Maps web application are updated regularly as new information is submitted and added, and as the accuracy of earlier versions of the datalayer is improved.

Three datalayers are being made available to the public:

  • The Inventory Points layer contains the locations of buildings, burial grounds, structures, and objects (e.g. statues, monuments, walls). The points layer is symbolized to indicate the most common historic designation types: 1) National Register of Historic Places, 2) local historic district, 3) both National Register and local historic district, 4) Preservation Restriction, 5) Massachusetts Historic Landmark (MA/HL) and 6) inventoried but not designated with one of the previous designations. Less common designations are not symbolized in MACRIS, but are included in the Designations attribute field (see below). MassGIS stores a copy of the point feature class as MHCINV_PT.
  • The Inventory Areas polygon layer includes areas and districts symbolized in MACRIS in a similar manner to Inventory Points. MassGIS stores a copy of this polygon feature class as MHCINV_POLY.
  • Another polygon layer, Towns, possesses a binary “y” or blank field to indicate whether a town has a survey pending digitization. Please note that new and updated information is added to MHC files daily, and that there may be considerable lag time before this information is reflected in MACRIS or in MACRIS Maps. Map information for “completed” towns may not reflect the most current information on file with MHC. MassGIS stores a copy of this polygon feature class as MHCTOWNS_POLY.

For additional information, users may consult the source records, forms and maps that make up the official Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth, on file at the MHC, Massachusetts Archives Building, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, during weekday business hours. No appointment is needed. For directions, see http://www.sec.state.ma.us/mhc/.


MHC began its ongoing digitization of the locational information included in these datalayers over a decade ago. Geospatial technology has advanced quite dramatically over that time period. While quality control of earlier digitized data is ongoing, locations digitized earlier in the digitizing process may have less accurate data than those that were digitized more recently. Please report any inaccuracies discovered in the datalayer to MHC.

Resource records in MACRIS are associated with paper inventory forms, National Register nominations, and/or other records on file at the MHC that have been compiled by or submitted to the MHC since its inception in 1963. New resources are submitted to MHC and added to the inventory daily. Attributes included in the database are derived from these sources, which vary in the quality and accuracy of their locational information. In the process of digitizing resource locations in the GIS datalayer, MHC staff attempts to quality control the paper records to update address information, eliminate duplicate records, and establish accurate resource locations.

In digitizing resource locations, MHC GIS staff manually confirms and geocodes the location of each building by using locus maps, parcel IDs, photographs, and other information included on inventory forms and other paper records. Most digitization has been done heads-up, on screen, using the 1990's Aerial Imagery2005 Aerial Imagery, and 2008/2009 Aerial Imagery from MassGIS, as well as Google Satellite Hybrid imagery as base maps. To confirm locations, MHC staff also uses historic maps, USGS topographic quad maps, and low-oblique aerial photographs in conjunction with on-line tax assessor data, parcel data, land evidence, and other available data sources.


Attributes not generated in the GIS digitizing process are derived from fields in MHC’s MACRIS database, based on information included on inventory forms and other records on file at MHC, and are corrected and updated as needed by MHC staff. As the source records vary in their quality and accuracy, so may the accuracy of the attribute data. Attribute data may not reflect present conditions. The following attributes apply to both point and polygon data. Some attributes are visible in MHC’s online MACRIS Maps mapping application. Other data fields are not visible in the application, but are attached to the layer.

Attributes with a '*' are for point data only.

MHCNUnique, alpha-numeric, record ID by which the resource is catalogued in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). Includes a three-letter Town Code followed by a (.), followed by a number or letter(s) (e.g., BOS.1534 or NWT.AB).
*DEMOLISHEDField contains a binary 'y' value if MHC has determined that the resource has been demolished subsequent to the inventory form or record being created and filed with MHC. A “BLANK” value indicates the resource is extant. While MHC updates its records to note demolitions when they are reported, it does not delete records of demolished resources. Demolished resources are digitized in the locations where they had been extant, and marked as demolished. In the digitizing process, resources are determined demolished if they do not appear in the orthophoto in the location accurately demarcated by the locus map on the inventory form, and through confirmation by assessors data, land evidence, and other available information.
TYPEResource Type. Values include:
   Burial Ground
DESIGNATIOLegal historic designations applied under local, state or federal law. All resources with designations included in this field are listed in the State Register of Historic Places. There may be multiple designations in this attribute field. If this is the case, designations are to be read left to right, with the respective designation dates to be read left to right as well. Values include:
   LHD: Local Historic District
   LL: Local Landmark
   MA/HL: Massachusetts Historic Landmark
   NHL: National Historic Landmark
   NRDIS: National Register District
   NRDOE: National Register Determination of Eligibility
   NRIND: National Register - Individual Property
   NRMPS: National Register Multiple Property Submission
   NRMRA: National Register Multiple Resource Area
   NRTRA: National Register Thematic Resource Area
   PR: Preservation Restriction
D_DATEDate of the corresponding designation. Designation dates are listed in order from left to right, respectively with designations.

Category for map legend symbology, based on the DESIGNATIO file with the following logic:

  1. PR: Preservation Restriction – anything with ‘PR’
  2. MA/HL: Massachusetts Historic Landmark – anything not in #1 and containing “MA/HL”
  3. NRHP and LHD – anything not in #1-2 and containing: “LHD” and (“NRIND” or “NRDIS” or “NRDOE”)
  4. LHD: Local Historic District – anything not in #1-3 and containing “LHD”
  5. NRHP: National Register of Historic Places – anything not in #1-4 and containing (“NRIND” or “NRDIS” or “NRDOE”)
  6. Inventoried Property – anything not in #1-5
HISTORIC_NPrimary historic name for the resource.
COMMON_NAMAlternative name for the resource.
ADDRESSCombined street number and name.
TOWN_NAMEName of City or Town in which resource is located.
CONSTRUCTIYear resource was built as recorded on inventory form or other record. The accuracy of this field is highly inconsistent. The value may reflect the middle of a given range of possible construction dates, or a broad estimate.
ARCHITECTUFor buildings, Architectural Style category as recorded on the inventory form or determined by MHC staff. Named ARCH in the polygon layer.
MAKERArchitect, designer, engineer, artist, contractor or other entity identified as responsible for the design or construction of the resource.
USE_TYPEThe way in which the resource was used at the time it was recorded on the inventory form (ie, Single Family Residential Building, Bowling Alley, Church). May not reflect present or other historic uses.
SIGNIFICANThe category in which the building is significant based on National Register standards. For example, a farm would have an area of significance “Agriculture” while a factory would have “Industry.”

The MHC Towns layer includes the following fields:

TOWNCity or town name.
COMPLETEIndicates whether MHC staff has completed digitizing the entire inventory for a specific town, with 'y' or blank.
STATUSCompletion status. 'Confirmed' for towns where COMPLETE = 'y', otherwise 'Not-confirmed'.
CODEThree-character code for City/Town name.
PENDINGIndicates which towns have surveys waiting to be processed. A ‘y’ value indicates that a town has pending surveys; when blank, there are no surveys pending.



Active updating and development of this datalayer by the MHC GIS staff is ongoing. MassGIS will replace the data available for download and in MassMapper approximately every two months.

For questions, contact the MHC (mhc@sec.state.ma.us) or the MHC GIS lab (gis3@sec.state.ma.us).

Date published: June 4, 2024

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