Architectural Preservation Districts

An Architectural Preservation District is a very useful tool to help protect the historic character of neighborhoods, village centers and downtowns.  This is accomplished through a combination of binding and advisory level reviews by a locally-appointed preservation district commission.   In an architectural preservation district, major alterations, demolitions and new construction must be approved for their compatibility before a building permit can be granted. If the project is found incompatible, a building permit cannot be obtained and the project cannot progress.  Through this process, architectural preservation districts provide a method for additional density, building additions and new development to be sensitively incorporated into existing historic areas. 

An Architectural Preservation District bylaw/ordinance is typically a general bylaw that requires a simple majority vote of town meeting or city council.

Nation-wide, architectural preservation districts are often called neighborhood conservation districts.  In Cambridge, they are known as neighborhood conservation districts. 

Additional information about architectural preservation district bylaws and ordinances can be obtained from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.