Historic Preservation

Historic preservation is a planning tool dedicated to recognizing, protecting and appreciating the City of Gainesville's diverse historic resources. Simply put, historic preservation is the means for protecting the City's historic resources from irreversible changes or deterioration and encouraging their active role in the community.

National Register of Historic Places Versus Local Designation

The National Register of Historic Places is our nation's official list of historic places deemed worthy of preservation. It recognizes a site or area's historical, architectural, cultural or archeological significance, but does not protect properties from inappropriate changes, incompatible infill development or demolition. The local designation offers such protection by providing the City with a mechanism to assure that alterations and new construction take place in a manner that respects the historical significance of an area.

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 (PDF).

Certificates of Appropriateness (COAs)

Upon designation and inclusion within the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone, a certificate of appropriateness (COA) must be obtained from the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission (GHPC) for a major work project, or the Community Development 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. For a list of major and minor work projects, please refer to Chapter 1: Administrative Information of the design 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 email Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar or call 770-531-6570.

Design Guidelines for Local Historic Districts

The Model Design and Construction Guidelines for Residential-Style Local Historic Districts, as adopted by the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission (GHPC) in May 2005, have been updated to create a more user-friendly, Gainesville-focused set of guidelines. This updated set adopted by the GHPC in December 2013 as the Gainesville Historic Preservation Manual and Design Guidelines, is designed to help owners and occupants of locally designated properties in making decisions about appropriate exterior material changes. The guidelines are standards, not laws.

Obtain a copy of the design guidelines (PDF) or contact Special Projects Manager Jessica Tullar by calling 770-531-6570.

Certified Local Government (CLG) Certification

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.

Gainesville received its CLG certification in the spring of 2006 and continues to work to maintain this certification. As a result of becoming a CLG, the City received six Historic Preservation Fund Grants between 2006 and 2012 to assist in the completion of its community-wide historic resources structural survey and its updated, more Gainesville-focused set of design guidelines.

Historic Resources Structural Survey

As a preliminary step in a multi-phase survey process, the City of Gainesville completed a Reconnaissance Surveyor "windshield survey" of the City's buildings and other structures which appeared to be historic or have the potential to become historic. The purpose of the windshield survey was to obtain an initial idea of the City's historic resource base and to identify neighborhoods with concentrations of historic resources.

Structural Survey

Following the windshield survey, a structural survey was conducted on a resource-by-resource basis and involved detailed research, field inspection from the public right-of-way, and documentation of over 2,000 historic and potentially historic properties within the City. Surveying of historic resources is an ongoing process, but generally, the surveying program is designed so that intensive-level surveying is performed every five-10 years as resources gain historical significance. Between November 2006 and September 2011, the City contracted with a private consulting firm to complete a five-phase, city-wide Historic Resources Structural Survey. And, as a Certified Local Government (CLG), Gainesville was awarded grant funds to help defer the costs of completing surveys.