Historic Preservation

Within OSPCD, Preservation Planners work with the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), citizens, and officials to protect Somerville’s historic assets through the review and implementation of historic preservation policies including Section 106 and Section 4(f), Chapter 40C Local Historic District (LHD) ordinance, and the demolition delay ordinance.

Preservation Planners work closely with the HPC to promote the protection, restoration, and preservation of the city's historic built environment, assess projects involving historic properties, and serve as advisors on matters of preservation regulation and policy.

Preservation Policies

Somerville’s historic property regulations are designed to preserve and protect significant buildings by providing advance notice of their proposed demolition or exterior alteration.

Demolition Review Ordinance

The Demolition Review Ordinance applies to structures over 50 years of age. The review process assist property owners and the City either to find a suitable alternative to demolition or to mitigate the effects of demolition. Either path may be pursued prior to or during the 9-month demolition delay period.

Local Historic District Ordinance (LHD)

Somerville has many structures designated as Local Historic Districts (LHDs) under the auspices of the state enabling statute, M.G.L. Chapter 40C, which empowers municipalities to protect the exteriors of designated structures through regulations specific to the historic property stock within each community.

Minimum Maintenance Standards Ordinance

Often referred to as the “demolition by neglect” ordinance, this local regulatory tool aims to protect specific types of historic properties from falling into deterioration and potential demolition. Properties in LHDs, those listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and those determined to be “significant” by the HPC are included under this measure.

Historic Bed & Breakfast and Historic Carriage House Ordinances

Designed to encourage the adaptive re-use of historic residences as lodging facilities, this ordinance allows relief from some zoning restrictions while providing a property owner with the ability to generate income to maintain the architectural integrity of the property. The Historic Carriage House Ordinance allows for the re-use of these structures as owner-occupied homes.

National Register of Historic Places

Many of the City’s historic structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (honorary only). The only “protections” afforded such properties occur when a federal agency provides funding, licensing, or permitting for a project that has the potential to have an adverse effect on the historic property. Under such circumstances, Preservation Planners participate in a Section 106 review process to help mitigate potential negative impacts on the City’s historic resources.

Federal & State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits

When restoring or rehabilitating a historic structure to be a non-owner occupied, income-producing property, the owner many be eligible to receive up to 20% of the cost of certified rehabilitation expenses in state tax credits. These tax credits can be sold to third parties, transferred upon sale of the property and combined with the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

  • Commission Membership

  • Regulations

  • Forms & Applications

  • Cases, Agendas & Minutes

City Staff

J. Brandon Wilson, Executive Director
Kristi Chase, Preservation Planner
Sarah White, Preservation & Zoning Planner

Commission Members

Dick Bauer, Chair (Real Estate Lawyer)
Abby Freedman, (Historic District Resident)
Alan Bingham (Historic District Resident) - Vice-Chair, Alternate Member
Dennis (DJ) Chagnon (Landscape Architect) - Alternate Member
Heather Davies (Architect) - Clerk, Alternate Member
Ryan Falvey (City Planner)
Eric Parkes (Architect & Historic District Resident)
Mark Sternman (Resident)

Local Historic District

Ordinance
View (PDF) (http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/HistoricDistrictsOrd...)

Apply for Exterior Alterations
View application steps PDF http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/SHPC-CertificateAppl...
View application flow chart (PDF) http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/CertificateApplicati...

Design Guidelines

View (PDF) http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/DesignGuidelines.pdf

Demolition Review Ordinance

View (PDF) http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/demolition-review-ordina...

Minimum Maintenance Standards Ordinance

View (PDF) http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/MinimumMaintenanceOr...

Historic Bed & Breakfast Ordinance

View (PDF) http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/HistoricB%26BbundleT...

Historic Carriage House Ordinance (PDF)

View (PDF) http://archive.somervillema.gov/sites/default/files/CarriageHouseOrdinan...

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Programs

Massachusetts

Federal

Federal Historic Statutes

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

Section 4(f) of the National Transportation Act

Massachusetts Historic Statutes

Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L. Ch. 40C) – Historic Districts

Somerville Historic Preservation Regulatory Information