[Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Designate a Historic Place in Your Community

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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

Transcript of [Preservation Tips & Tools] How to Designate a Historic Place in Your Community

  • Historic Designation If youve 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 preservation ordinance? 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 commission? 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 properties.
  • What is the process? Because each ordinance is site-specific, its difficult to summarize a one size fits all process, so were 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.
  • Example: Pasadena, California The historic preservation ordinance for the city of Pasadena explains the criteria, application process, and review process for submissions requesting historic designation.
  • Criteria for the designation of historic resources 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 youve figured out the necessary criteria, the application process can begin. Pasadenas 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 preservation ordinances. These ordinances are all over the country and are similar in many respects, but unique in local context. Chances are good theres a historic preservation commission in your area. Remember: These laws offer some of the strongest protection to historic places, so theyre definitely worth investigating if you believe a historic place is threatened.
  • The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save Americas 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.