[Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Designate a Historic Place in Your Community
If you’ve ever wondered how a place becomes designated as historic, then you should know about historic preservation ordinances and what they can do for you. And whether you’re requesting historic designation or permission to make changes to a historic property, your local historic commission is the administrative body that can help. In today’s toolkit, we’re answering key questions about ordinances and commissions so you can participate with confidence in this community-based, community-driven process. http://blog.preservationnation.org
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - [Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Designate a Historic Place in Your Community
HOW TO DESIGNATE A
HISTORIC PLACE IN
If you’ve ever wondered how a place becomes designated as historic,
then you should know about historic preservation ordinances and
what they can do for you.
What is a historic
Local historic preservation ordinances are the primary laws that
communities implement to protect and preserve historic resources. These
laws protect individual sites and areas, and they offer the strongest form of
legal protection for historic properties. Each ordinance is tailored to fit the
needs that best suit the individual community.
What is a historic preservation
Creating a historic preservation ordinance establishes the historic
preservation commission. The commissions are the local governing
bodies for all things preservation; they review ordinances, designation
proposals, and requests to alter, move, or demolish historic
What is the process?
Because each ordinance is site-specific, it’s difficult to summarize a “one
size fits all” process, so we’re offering a general process in this toolkit, plus
a site-specific, real-world example.
Generally speaking, applicants should…
• Reference the historic preservation ordinance in the area. (It will explain
the criteria and process.)
• Prepare a well-researched argument.
• Present the argument to the historic preservation commission.
The historic preservation ordinance for the city of Pasadena explains the
criteria, application process, and review process for submissions requesting
Criteria for the designation of historic
The resource should be listed on the National Register of Historic
Places or meet one of the following:
• Be associated with significant events in the history of the area
• Be associated with significant people in history
• Exemplifies distinctive characteristics of a certain time in history
• Has provided or will provide insight to the history of the area
Application process for historic designation
Once you’ve figured out the necessary criteria, the application process can begin.
Pasadena’s ordinance outlines the application process for historic designation into
six steps. It includes details of who should submit the application, what happens if
the application is eligible or not, and how the review process is organized.
Review process for historic designation
1. The commission reviews the application at a public hearing, and
offers its recommendation.
2. After receiving the recommendation, the city clerk will schedule a
public hearing within 60 days.
3. The council will approve or disapprove of the nominated resource
at a public hearing.
There are currently over 2,300 historic
These ordinances are all over the country and are similar in many respects,
but unique in local context. Chances are good there’s a historic preservation
commission in your area. Remember: These laws offer some of the
strongest protection to historic places, so they’re definitely worth
investigating if you believe a historic place is threatened.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s
historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same
in their own communities.
For more information, visit blog.preservationnation.org.
Photos courtesy: KOMUnews, Flickr; cmh2315fl,
Flickr; Maryland GovPics, Flickr; Brett Kiger,
Flickr; John Lopez, Flickr; Steven Damron, Flickr.