Historic Districts and Neighborhood Conservation Districts in Cambridge, MA
In addition to the districts named below, individual properties can be protected by preservation easement or landmark designation. Please review the Designated Property List for a street listing of properties protected by district, landmark, easement, or other designation status.
Online CHC brochures: "Cambridge
Historic Districts" and "Neighborhood
MAP of Historic Districts and Neighborhood Conservation Districts and Window Guidelines and HVAC Guidelines
View the individual homepage for any of the following districts or district studies (scroll down to see full list):
(general district info below)
Read the local ordinances and state laws under which the Historical Commission and the neighborhood conservation district commissions operate.
Download application forms online.
View the permit procedures brochure.
HOW CAN I VIEW THE 2007 LOWER COMMON NCD STUDY REPORT?
On October 8, 2004, the
Cambridge Historical Commission voted to accept a petition and initiate a neighborhood
conservation district study, per the procedures of Ch. 2.78, Article III of
the city code, for the Lower Common neighborhood.
The study was suspended
by vote of the Historical Commission on June 28, 2007, but the study report
remains available here for reference
and design considerations.
WHAT ARE HISTORIC DISTRICTS AND NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICTS?
Historic districts are areas in which historic buildings and their settings are protected by public review. Historic district ordinances are local laws that are adopted by communities using powers granted by the state. Historic districts comprise the city's significant historic and architectural resources. Inclusion in a historic district signifies that a property contributes to an ensemble that is worth protecting by virtue of its historic importance or architectural quality. Historic districts deserve special protection because they enhance our shared quality of life.
Neighborhood Conservation Districts:
These districts are groups of buildings that are architecturally and historically distinctive. There are four NCDs in Cambridge: Mid Cambridge, Half Crown-Marsh, Avon Hill, and Harvard Square. A different commission administers each of the four NCDs. These NCD commissions are empowered to approve new construction, demolition, and alterations that are visible from a public way. The establishment of an NCD recognizes the particular design and architectural qualities of special neighborhoods in Cambridge and encourages their protection and maintenance for the benefit of the entire city.
These designations were created to preserve
buildings that are architecturally and historically significant. The establishment
of such districts and landmarks recognizes the particular historic and architectural
qualities of neighborhoods and buildings in Cambridge and encourages their protection
and maintenance for the benefit of the entire City.
The regulations in the neighborhood conservation
districts are tailored to the needs of the particular neighborhood and are generally
less strict than those in historic districts.
I'M THINKING ABOUT
REPLACING MY WINDOWS. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE ME?
We have a brochure all about windows, their repair, and considerations to think about before choosing to replace your windows. Click here for more information.
DOES BEING IN A HISTORIC DISTRICT MEAN THAT I CAN NEVER CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF MY PROPERTY?
No. Properties in historic districts
are not frozen in time. Historic district protection is designed to ensure that
when changes occur, they do not destroy the unique qualities of the district.
Cambridge has two historic districts. An online map of the historic districts and neighborhood conservation districts is now available.
No. Properties in neighborhood conservation
districts are not frozen in time. Neighborhood conservation district protection
is designed to ensure that a neighborhood's distinctive qualities are taken
into account when changes occur. Most routine and minor changes are reviewed
on-the- spot by the Historical Commission staff. Many other changes are reviewed
by the neighborhood conservation district commission in an advisory, non-binding
capacity. Binding review in a public hearing is generally reserved for major
changes, such as demolition, new construction, and major exterior alteration,
that would affect neighborhood character.
Neighborhood Conservation Districts are comprised of groups of buildings that are architecturally and historically distinctive. There are four NCDs in Cambridge: Mid Cambridge, Half Crown-Marsh, Avon Hill, and Harvard Square. An online map of the historic districts and neighborhood conservation districts is now available.