November 5, 2013

Toolkit Roundup: How to Establish Local Historic Districts

  • By: Julia Rocchi

blog_photo_City of Marietta, GA

Dedication of a historical marker at the site of the former Lemon Street school in Marietta, Georgia.

Today’s local preservationists are big-picture thinkers. They’re not looking only at landmarks; they’re also thinking about their community’s whole environment, development history, sustainability, and politics. And one great way to protect a place’s history, culture, and values is to establish a local historic district.

This round-up takes you through some of the essential steps, components, and benefits related to local historic districts. Add any lessons we missed in the comments!


10 Steps to Establish a Local Historic District

A local historic district is an entire area or group of historic structures deemed significant to the city's cultural fabric that are protected by public review. Most often, communities create local districts to prevent unregulated and insensitive change. This toolkit gives you a broad roadmap to follow when considering establishing a local historic district in your neck of the woods.


10 Factors in Establishing Local Historic District Boundary Lines

The boundaries you define transform the unique features of your community into a meaningful historic district, and there are many elements to consider in your decisions. The good news is there is a logical process for establishing the edges of historic districts. Here are 10 steps to get you started.


10 Benefits of Establishing a Local Historic District

Shaping local sentiment and opinions is always a complex task, and planning a local historic district is no exception. So it’s up to the district advocates to make a clear and compelling case about the advantages of a local historic district. Share these 10 points with your community stakeholders about what establishing a local historic district can bring to your area.


10 Ways to Keep the "Local" in a Local Historic District

As you might imagine, districts are not a one-size-fits-all solution. This toolkit share 10 ways you can keep the "local" in your historic district -- and find an approach that works for your community.


10 Basic Elements of a Preservation Ordinance

A preservation ordinance is a local statute enacted to protect buildings and neighborhoods from destruction or insensitive rehabilitation -- and it's what gives local historic districts their heft. While every community’s ordinance should be written to meet the specific needs of the area, each should have these 10 basic components.

Have you established a local historic district in your community? What did you learn?

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and gawks at buildings.


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