National Register District and a Local Historic District Differences
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of buildings, sites or areas worthy of preservation. Listing does not restrict what the property owner may do with the property unless the owner is using federal assistance, like federal rehabilitation tax credits.
A local historic district is a district designated by a local ordinance, which falls under the jurisdiction of an appointed citizen-board called a Historic Preservation Commission. It provides communities with the means to make sure that growth, development, and change take place in ways that respect the important architectural, historical, and environmental characteristics.
The brochure There’s a Difference (PDF)
distributed by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, offers a more detailed explanation of the difference between a National Register District and a Local Historic District.