Q. Can my State Historic
Preservation Office give financial and other assistance to us while we’re
trying to create a historic district?
A. Yes, it can. Through technical assistance and
matching grants, the SHPO helps communities build successful preservation
programs to protect historic buildings, structures, and archaeological
About Local Historic Districts
>> South Carolina SHPO
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With preservation planning, communities integrate preservation into other
plans and policies, such as transportation, subdivision regulations, housing
and economic development. The development or update of a local comprehensive
or master plan is a great opportunity to consider the future of a community’s
Created with citizen input, a preservation
• Reviews the current inventory and conditions of historic resources
• Describes the desired future for these resources
• Outlines action steps
Communities may apply for matching grants from the SHPO for preservation
planning. Some states may provide planning grants for comprehensive
plans that include historic properties.
Surveys of Historic and Prehistoric Resources
Surveys help local governments and preservation groups identify and evaluate
historic properties. This information helps communities plan how to protect
and benefit from historic and cultural resources.
• Identifies historic buildings, structures, and landscapes, and
• Records physical characteristics and locations on maps
• Evaluates significance in local and State history
• Determines if properties or areas are eligible for listing in
the National Register of Historic Places.
Local governments and non-profit organizations may apply for
matching grants from the SHPO to conduct surveys. The SHPO also
helps plan and administer surveys. The local government—and the
SHPO—keeps completed survey records for future research and planning
needs, including GIS systems (Geographic Information System).
For many states, state law allows communities to adopt and enact zoning
ordinances that protect historic and architecturally valuable districts
and neighborhoods by restricting or placing conditions on exterior alterations,
additions, demolitions or relocations of structures in those areas. Studies
across the nation have shown that having local preservation overlay zoning
in place not only protects the historic properties, it protects the value
of those properties. Thus owners of historic buildings in these protected
districts see the value of their investments increase.
Preservation Ordinance. A preservation
ordinance protects historic properties by officially recognizing historic
areas, buildings and sites as local historic districts and landmarks.
Owners of these locally designated properties get approval from a locally
appointed board for exterior changes, additions, new construction, relocation
or demolition, so that changes complement the historic appearance of the
building and its surroundings. This approval process is called design
Communities may apply for matching grants from the SHPO to develop
or revise a preservation ordinance. Many SHPOs have a sample
preservation ordinance and staff will review drafts. The SHPO offers training
for members and staff of historic preservation commissions and architectural
review boards and responds to special information requests.
Design guidelines are both written and graphic advice for preservation
commissions and property owners to use when considering the appropriateness
of exterior alterations, additions, demolitions, and new construction
for local historic districts. Design guidelines are key support materials
for administering the preservation overlay zoning ordinance. Guidelines
may also be created and used on a voluntary basis, before local historic
districts and design review are in place.
Communities may apply for matching grants from the SHPO to create
or update design guidelines, which give property owners and historic
preservation commissions and design review boards guidance on alterations
and new designs that are appropriate for the local historic properties
Check it out! Another great source
of information for local preservation programs is the
Alliance of Preservation Commissions—America's membership organization
for persons and organizations seeking to promote the activities of preservation
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