Skip to main content

OSPCD - Historic Preservation

Within OSPCD's Planning & Zoning Division is the Historic Preservation Division. This division has two distinct work areas – Historic Preservation and Historic Events & Education. Information regarding Historic Events & Education is found here, while this page focuses on the regulatory aspects of Historic Preservation.

OSPCD works with the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission (SHPC) to ensure Somerville’s most important historic properties are preserved. On this page, you’ll find links to get help with your historic property, information about meetings and cases, and more.

    Contact Information
    Sarah Lewis
    Planning Director

    Monday - Wednesday
    8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

    Thursday
    8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

    Friday
    8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

    Phone Number
    x
    2522

    Employee Directory

    Regulations & Procedures

    If you own a historic property, you’ll have to follow certain rules if you want to make repairs or changes to your home. Preservation planners at the OSPCD can help you with technical information throughout the process. The Historic Preservation Commission also offers advice to homeowners who need help adhering to design standards and other guidelines. Below, you’ll find links to important information that may impact your property:

    List of Somerville Local Historic Districts by Address

    Demolition Review

    Historic Districts

    Additional Information

    Cases & Decisions

    Cases & Decisions

    Meetings, Agendas, & Minutes

    Historic Preservation Commission meetings are generally held on the third Tuesday of each month.

    Please see published legal notifications and online agendas at somervillema.gov/events. Agendas are published at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting. The meeting dates below are tentative: meetings will only be held if there are items of business on the agenda to be addressed at the meeting, and meetings may be rescheduled or cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

    Historic Preservation Commission

    Established in 1985, the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission (SHPC) enforces the City's Historic District Ordinance as well as its Demolition Review Ordinance. The Commission has seven regular members and seven alternates. All fourteen (14) members are volunteers from various backgrounds. By Ordinance the regular members must be Somerville residents and include an architectural historian, an architect, a licensed real estate broker, a city planner, a lawyer, and two resident members with a demonstrated commitment to historic preservation. The alternates include a resident of a historic district, a landscape architect, a licensed general contractor or person in the building trades, and a person with a background in any of the above-mentioned categories, and five of the alternates must be Somerville residents. All members of the SHPC are appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council. Members typically serve for three-year terms and can be re-appointed.

    Meeting Schedule

    Regular Members

    2 or more must be Local Historic District (LHD) residents.

    1. Architectural Historian – Caitlin Hart - Secretary
    2. Architect – Eric Parkes (LHD)
    3. Real Estate Agent – Robin Kelly (LHD)
    4. City Planner – Ryan Falvey
    5. Lawyer– Dick Bauer
    6. Citizen Member – Alan Bingham (LHD) - Chair
    7. Citizen Member – Mark Sternman – Vice Chair

    Alternates

    5 out of 7 must be Somerville residents. #4-7 may be any category of a regular member.

    1. Historic District Resident – (Vacant)
    2. Landscape Architect – Denis J. Chagnon
    3. Contractor/Building Tradesperson – Adam T. Wylie
    4. (Vacant)
    5. (Vacant)
    6. Citizen Member – Anthony Griseto
    7. (Vacant)

     

    Purpose

    The SHPC reviews any alterations or repairs to properties in a Local Historic District (LHD) that are visible from a public way and that would result in an irreversible change in the design, materials, or outward appearance of the structure. It also reviews any changes in the general arrangement of the building's features or its architectural details, such as the arrangement of windows or doors. The SHPC does not review cases that involve routine maintenance or replacement of any part of the property using the same design and materials as the original building. The SHPC also does not review cases in which buildings have been destroyed by fire or other disaster, as long as the reconstruction occurs within a year and is substantially similar to the original building in exterior design, type of use, and size. The SHPC offers pro bono professional advice, practical information, and pertinent references about materials and techniques used in historic preservation and restoration, and provides technical assistance throughout design and construction. SHPC has developed specific guidelines to aid historic property owners in making appropriate and sensitive decisions about alterations, additions, and repairs to their properties. 

    The SHPC also administers the City's Demolition Review Ordinance adopted in 2003. This ordinance affects properties built fifty (50) or more years ago and that are not already designated as part of a Local Historic District. You can find the Demolition Review Ordinance at this link.

     

    Studies, Presentations, & Projects

    OSCPD and the Historic Preservation Commission work together to identify, expand, and protect local historic districts. Below, you’ll find recent case studies and presentations regarding these districts and other historic property projects.

    Union Square Post Office Study

    Forms & Applications

    Local Historic Districts

    Non-LHD Structures Over 75 Years of Age

    Please submit website feedback using this form. Be sure to include:

    A description of the issue (if any)
    A link to the affected pages

    Thank you for your feedback!