Historic Districts

Boston’s nine local Historic District Commissions review proposed exterior design changes to properties located within the boundaries of each of the City’s nine Historic Districts, which are:

  • Aberdeen Architectural Conservation District 

  • Back Bay Architectural District

  • Bay State Road/Back Bay West Architectural Conservation District 

  • Bay Village Historic District 

  • Historic Beacon Hill District

  • Fort Point Channel Landmark District 

  • Mission Hill Triangle Architectural Conservation District 

  • South End Landmark District

  • St. Botolph Architectural Conservation District 

The Historic District Commissions help to ensure that the unique historic and architectural character of these Boston neighborhoods is protected and preserved.

Each Historic District Commission meets monthly.  Commissioners are volunteers nominated by neighborhoods, professional organizations, or the Boston Landmarks Commission and are appointed by the Mayor and Boston City Council.  Each District Commission has its own guidelines for design review, deadlines for application submittals, and hearing dates for the review of applications.  The local Historic Districts are administered by preservation planners within the staff of the Boston Landmarks Commission. 

To obtain a building permit for proposed exterior changes to properties located within district boundaries, prior Commission review and approval is required.  An application form must be submitted to Commission staff to initiate the review process.  Work performed without prior Commission review and approval will result in the issuance of a violation.

Preservation planners are available to provide information and to assist with the application process.  Before submitting an application for design review, an applicant may wish to contact the preservation staff for guidance. Staff consultation is also available throughout the entire application and review process. 

The Historic District Commissions do not have jurisdiction over use, occupancy issues, or zoning matters.  If a project requires zoning relief, all necessary variances must be received from the Zoning Board of Appeal before the project can be reviewed by a local Historic District Commission.

Application forms, filing instructions, a schedule of filing deadlines and hearing dates, guidelines for review, and historical information are available for download at each district’s individual page. 

To save time and costs, property owners and developers are encouraged to contact staff early on in the project planning process, in order to obtain information on compliance with guidelines.  If you have questions regarding a Historic District, please contact the preservation planner for your district. 

This website is not a substitute for the advice of staff, nor is it a substitute for formal review of an application by the applicable Historic District Commission, as required by law.

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