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Yes, this is one of the biggest misunderstandings of historic districts - there are 2 different types.
National Register Districts are established and determined to be important to American history, culture, architecture or archaeology by the National Park Service. Inclusion in a National Register Historic District is honorary and provides historic structures with limited protection from adverse effects by State and Federally related/funded projects.
Local Historic Districts are established by local city ordinance and are overseen by the Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission. Designation as a Local Historic District does not prevent owners from making changes to their properties; it simply guides them towards the most appropriate options.
If and when a property owner wishes to make changes to the exterior of their property they are required to complete an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) and present their proposed changes to the Historic Preservation Commission.
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The Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission is a 9 member commission appointed by the Mayor of Lafayette and charged with preserving and protecting the historic and architecturally worthy buildings, structures, sites, monuments, streetscapes and neighborhoods which impart a distinct aesthetic quality to the City and serve as visible reminders of its historic heritage.
The 9 members of the Historic Preservation Commission come from a variety of disciplines including contractors, architects, historians and historic building owners. The Commission was created by the City Council in April 1993 with City Ordinance 93-18 - at that time it was known as the Historic Review Board. The City Council approved City Ordinance 2010-11 to align with new State enabling legislation.
For more information, please visit the Historic Preservation Commission page.
As of September 2017, Lafayette contained 10 National Register Historic Districts, and 22 Local Historic Districts. Learn more about the Local Historic Districts.
If a property owner within a Local Historic District wishes to make a change to their property they are required to apply for approval in the form of a Certificate of Appropriateness, known as a COA. Depending on the type of proposed change the property owner completes a COA application and submits the completed form with supporting materials (photos/drawings/description of work) to the Economic Development Department.
Once submitted, the application is reviewed by staff to determine if approval from the full Commission is required - some changes can be approved by staff without a Commission meeting. If staff determines that the application needs to be approved by the Commission, a meeting is set with the Commission's COA Committee.
The 3-member COA Committee reviews the application and discusses the proposed changes with the property owner or their representative and ultimately makes a recommendation for approval or denial to the full Historic Preservation Commission at its regular monthly meeting. The full Commission reviews the COA application, takes comments on the proposed changes, and based on the information presented votes to approve or deny a COA. The regular monthly meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission are open to the public and allow time for public comment.
View the Certificate of Appropriateness Application.
A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is the approval granted to a property owner who has gone through the review process for exterior work on a structure or site located within a Local Historic District. The City Engineer's Office will not approve building or demolition permits for properties located within Local Historic Districts without a COA on file.
No. Since the Historic Preservation Ordinance was approved in 1993, 95% of the COAs reviewed have been approved by the Commission either based on the information submitted or with additional comments from the Commission.
Absolutely not. Although the Indiana State statute that provides local governments with an option to create a Historic Preservation Commission allows for the review of paint color, the Lafayette Historic Preservation Ordinance (Ordinance 2010-11) specifically states the Commission shall not govern new paint color of previously painted materials. Unpainted materials like brick, however, should remain unpainted. The Commission does have the authority to review and approve the color of permanent materials like glass, anodized aluminum and masonry.
Please review the Historic Preservation Commission Ordinance.
No, but additions to structures located within Local Historic Districts must be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission and its staff work with property owners and contractors who wish to enlarge structures to ensure the new addition does not detract from the architectural significance of the original historic structure.
Common design features that allow for additions to historic structures include small setbacks from the original wall line, alterations to the addition's roof line, cladding material, and repetition of fenestration (windows and doors) that complement or blend well with existing patterns.
Demolition of historic structures within a Local Historic District is not prohibited, but it is highly discouraged. If the Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission denies a request to demolish a building within a Local Historic District, the property owner may appeal the decision and the request will be reviewed by a 3-member appeal board consisting of the Mayor or their designee, City Engineer or their designee, and a Board member of a local historic preservation-related organization (Wabash Valley Trust for Historic Preservation, Indiana Landmarks, Tippecanoe County Historical Association, etc.) as appointed by the Mayor. The appeal board will review the request and either uphold or overturn the Commission's original decision.
No, but plans for new construction in a Local Historic District must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission.
It is highly recommended that if you have plans for a new building on a vacant lot in a Local Historic District you should notify the Historic Preservation Commission early on in the planning process to ensure the design is compatible with the surrounding historic fabric. Attractive new construction can be designed to complement adjacent historic structures by paying close attention to features like lot placement, building orientation, scale, roof shape, massing, and fenestration (window and door placement).
One excellent example of new residential construction in a Local Historic District in Lafayette is located at 208 South 6th Street. The house is constructed completely of modern materials, but the way the building was designed makes it fit seamlessly with neighboring homes that were built more than a century earlier.
View a photo of the South 6th Street home.
Not necessarily. The members of the Historic Preservation Commission realize that all materials have a set life span, however, historic doors and windows were designed to allow for repair of individual components instead of full scale replacement.
The commission and its staff advocate for repair of existing historic windows and doors for a variety of reasons ranging from environmental factors, to material durability, to economic investment. In situations where historic windows and doors are deteriorated beyond repair the commission has approved installation of new windows and doors that match those being replaced in size and profile.
For information regarding what is considered environmental factors, material durability and economic investment, please visit the
A Local Historic District designation is one of the most effective ways to preserve and protect the City's unique historic structures and neighborhoods. Designation protects the investments of owners and residents by ensuring the historic features that make an area attractive are preserved.
Local Historic Districts are also environmentally friendly. Retention and reuse of historic materials prevents a significant amount of old and new material from being deposited in landfills. Preserving and protecting the historic architecture of the community establishes a unique identity, stabilizes neighborhoods, and protects the investments of property owners.
For more information about the district, visit the Local Historic District page.
Yes, professional advice, information on different funding opportunities, recommendations for best practices for dealing with historic structures and access to a statewide network of historic building professionals are some of the resources offered through the Economic Development Department for properties listed in Local Historic Districts.
If you have any questions concerning Local Historic Districts or the Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission please contact John Collier with the Economic Development Department at (765) 807-1090 or by email.