Historic preservation is a planning tool dedicated to recognizing, protecting, using and appreciating Gainesville’s diverse historic resources. Simply put, historic preservation is the means for protecting the City’s historic resources from destruction or deterioration and encouraging their active role in the community. Preservation refers to the maintenance of historic resources without significant alteration to the current condition. Preservation can refer to the renovation and conversion of a vacant residential dwelling into office space; the nomination of an historic site or area to the National Register for Historic Places; the designation of a local historic district or landmark; or a combination of any of these.
National Register for Historic Places vs. Local Designation
The National Register for Historic Places is our nation’s official list of historic places deemed worthy of preservation; it simply recognizes a site or area’s historical, architectural, cultural or archeological significance. While the National Register provides national recognition and promotes rehabilitation tax credits, it does not protect properties from inappropriate changes, incompatible buildings going in next door, or demolition. Local designation offers protection against incompatible changes by providing the City with the means to assure that alterations and new construction take place in a manner which respects the important historical significance of a site or district.
Local designation does not control the use of a property, but rather serves as an overlay zone which is a defined geographic area that encompasses one or more underlying zoning districts and imposes additional requirements above those required by the underlying zoning district. In the case of the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, the additional provisions entail design review of any significant exterior material change. For additional information about the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, how an area can become locally designated, or what constitutes an exterior material change; refer to Chapter 9-8-8 and Article 9-23 of the Unified Land Development Code. To gain a better understanding of what local designation does and does not entail, you can refer to the Historic Preservation FAQs.
Certificates of Appropriateness (COAs)
Upon designation and inclusion within the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) must be obtained from the GHPC for a major work project, or the Planning Director for a minor work project, prior to any material changes in the exterior appearance of a structure or site. A few examples of an exterior material change in appearance include new construction, demolition or relocation, building addition, signage, and parking lots. More specifically, examples of a major work project include new construction or replacement of wood clapboard siding with hardi plank siding; whereas, a minor work project may involve the construction of a handicap accessibility ramp on the rear of a building. For a list of major and minor work projects, please refer to Chapter 5: Procedure for Approval of the design and construction guidelines.
Information on how to obtain a COA is outlined in Chapter 9-23-3 of the Unified Land Development Code. To determine what type of work project is being proposed and whether a COA is required, please contact Jessica Dempsey-Tullar, Special Projects Manager, via email or by calling (770) 531-6570.
Design & Construction Guidelines for Residential-Style Districts
The Model Design & Construction Guidelines for Residential-Style Local Historic Districts, as adopted by the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission (GHPC) in May 2005, are designed to help owners and occupants of locally designated properties in making decisions about appropriate exterior material changes that will continue to contribute to the integrity of the site and its surroundings, and to the significance of the local historic district. The purpose and intent of the design and construction guidelines is to offer guidance to owners and occupants, architects, developers, and other individuals contemplating restoration, remodeling, or new construction on how to maintain the architectural integrity of the structure, its surroundings, and the district as a whole. The guidelines are standards, not laws.
Generally the design and construction guidelines emphasize that it is better to repair and maintain rather than replace a historic or non-historic structure or its character-defining features. The adopted design guidelines are an extension of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, which were formulated by the National Park Service and adopted by the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission as the standard guidelines for restoring, rehabilitating, and preserving architecturally and historically significant sites.
To obtain a copy of the design and construction guidelines, please contact Jessica Dempsey-Tullar, Special Projects Manager, via email or by calling (770) 531-6570.
NOTE: The City of Gainesville is in the process of updating its design guidelines for a more Gainesville-focused set of design guidelines for local historic districts. Click on the link below to view the proposed draft design guidelines.
Certified Local Government (CLG) Certification
Jointly administered by the National Parks Service in partnership with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, the Certified Local Government (CLG) Program is a model and cost-effective local, state, and federal partnership that promotes historic preservation at the grassroots level. More specifically, this certification recognizes a local government’s best practices in historic preservation. Some benefits of becoming a CLG include eligibility for federal historic preservation grant funds and opportunities for technical assistance.
Gainesville received its CLG certification in the spring of 2006 and continues to work to maintain the certification. The City is now eligible to receive grant funds for various projects, including resource surveys and other planning efforts.
Related Historic Preservation Links
Various regional, state and national organizations perform work related to historic preservation. As well, such organizations provide valuable information and educational materials which offer guidance on historic preservation projects and rehabilitation efforts. Website links for a few such organizations are listed.
Also included is a link to the National Parks Service Preservation Briefs, which are easy-to read guides on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings.
Historic Resources Reconnaissance Survey
As a preliminary step in a multi-phase survey process, the City of Gainesville contracted with a private consulting firm to perform a Historic Resources Reconnaissance Survey or “windshield survey” of the City's buildings and other structures which appear to be historic or have the potential to become historic. A windshield survey literally involves driving around the community and noting the general distribution of buildings, structures, and neighborhoods representing different architectural styles, periods, and modes of construction. The findings of a windshield survey primarily focus on architecture and date of construction. The purpose of a windshield survey is to obtain an initial idea of the City's historic resource base and to identify neighborhoods with concentrations of historic resources and prominent individual landmarks.
- Reconnaissance Survey (forthcoming)
Historic Resources Structural Survey
A Historic Resources Structural Survey (or intensive-level survey) differs from a windshield survey in the level of effort involved with researching a community's historic resources. A structural or intensive-level survey, which is conducted on a resource-by-resource basis, involves detailed research, thorough inspection and documentation of all historic and potentially historic properties within the City.
As part of the Reconnaissance Survey effort, a multi-phase strategy for performing intensive-level structural surveys for all of Gainesville's historic resources was created. The Historic Resources Structural Survey is a planning tool designed to better prepare staff to guide the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission in its decision-making on requests for local designation and applications for Certificates of Appropriateness within our existing districts.
Surveying of historic resources is an on-going process, but generally the surveying program is designed so that intensive-level surveying is performed every five to ten years as resources gain historical significance. During the summer of 2006, the City contracted with a private consulting firm to complete Phase I of the City-wide Historic Resources Structural Survey. And, as a Certified Local Government (CLG), Gainesville is eligible for grant funds to help defer the costs of completing surveys.