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Cambridge's Local Landmarks


Protected Landmarks in Cambridge brochure available online in PDF format.

A map of landmarks  is now also available in PDF format. This map may not show recently designated landmarks. See below list of current landmarks or call with any questions.

View recent landmark study reports and designation status on the Staff Reports page.

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LANDMARKS

WHAT IS A LANDMARK?

A landmark is a place, structure, feature, or object that has been designated by the City Council as historically or architecturally significant by itself or because it is associated with events, persons, or trends significant in the history of the City. Designation as a Cambridge Landmark is an honor that recognizes the importance of its design or its unique place in the City's history. Landmark designation recognizes only a select number of individual properties that are important to the City as a whole, protecting them so that their unique qualities are maintained for the benefit of all of the residents of Cambridge.   Protected landmarks include City Hall and many prominent buildings on Massachusetts Avenue. Individual properties may also be protected by the donation of  preservation easements  to the City by a property owner.

DOES LANDMARKING MEAN I CAN NEVER CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF MY PROPERTY?

No. Landmark designation means that changes must be publicly reviewed to ensure that the landmark's special qualities are not lost through inappropriate alterations.

The Commission works closely with owners both before and after designation to develop design solutions that respect the landmark's significance while acknowledging its ongoing use. Many alterations, such as additional construction on a landmark site, can be incorporated into the designation order itself, thereby assuring owners of their ability to move forward with planned changes.

HOW DOES A PROPERTY BECOME A DESIGNATED LANDMARK?

The process of designating a Cambridge Landmark may begin when ten registered voters petition the Historical Commission to study a property for landmark designation. Alternatively, the Historical Commission may initiate the landmark study process on its own. The Commission staff then prepares a report on the proposed landmark, detailing its significance, developing boundaries and standards for the property, and, if justified, recommending a landmark designation order.

The report is transmitted to the Commission for its review, and between 45 and 60 days later the proposal is considered at a public hearing. If the Commission so votes, the study report is transmitted to the City Council with a recommendation to designate. Designations are made by a majority vote of the City Council, which may hold an additional hearing.

WHAT DOES LANDMARK DESIGNATION MEAN IN PRACTICAL TERMS?

The Historical Commission is empowered to regulate changes that affect the publicly visible features of designated landmarks. Such features are those that are open to view from a public way. This includes but is not limited to building materials, temporary signs and structures, walls, fences, driveways, storm doors and windows, gutters, and window air conditioners. Paint color is not a feature that is regulated in neighborhood conservation districts.

The Historical Commission has specific design standards for each landmark, which are included in the individual designation reports.

A Certificate of Non-Applicability will be issued for work done in kind (work which matches existing conditions exactly), interior alterations, and alterations not visible from any public way; in short, any work which does not require Commission review. These certificates are generally issued by the Historical Commission staff on-the-spot.

A Certificate of Appropriateness will be issued for alterations which the Commission deems not incongruous to the character of the property in question.

Occasionally, a Certificate of Hardship will be issued for work which is not otherwise appropriate if the Commission determines that failure to approve an application would entail a substantial hardship, financial or otherwise, and that the work would not be a significant detriment to the landmark.

One of these certificates is always necessary to obtain a building permit for work on a Cambridge Landmark.

 

DESIGNATED CAMBRIDGE LANDMARKS:
107 Auburn Street, Wiswall/Orne House
12 Bow Street, Farwell-Russell Store
42 Brattle Street, William Brattle House
54 Brattle Street, Dexter Pratt House
315-325 Cambridge Street, Second Baptist/St. Francis of Assisi Church
39 Cedar Street/Cedar Square/1-3 McLean Place, Park House Hotel
25 Central Square, White Tower Building
28 Fayerweather Street, Arthur Astor Carey House
45 Fayerweather Street, Garrett Birkhoff House
10 Frost Street, William Frost House
95 Irving Street, William James House
56 Magazine Street, Grace Methodist Church
187 Magazine Street (corner of Memorial Drive), Shell Spectacular Sign
135-145 Main Street, Luke Building
787-789 Main Street, Union #2 Engine House
536 Massachusetts Avenue, Odd Fellows Hall
763-765 Massachusetts Avenue,
Cambridge Mutual Fire Insurance Company Building
795 Massachusetts Avenue, City Hall
see also this brief history
1008 Massachusetts Avenue, Houghton Beech Tree
1380, 1384-92 Massachusetts Avenue, and 6-8, 10-14 J.F.K. Street,
Farwell-Read Block
1564 Massachusetts Avenue, Francis-Allyn House
1626 Massachusetts Avenue, Sawin-Cobb-Wilson House
North Avenue Congregational Church 1797-1803 Massachusetts Avenue, North Avenue Congregational Church
Cambridge Masonic Temple, 1950 Mass. Ave. 1950 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge Masonic Temple
1991 Massachusetts Avenue, St. James's Episcopal Church
Fence and gates at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Photo by R. Cheek. 580 Mount Auburn Street, Mount Auburn Cemetery Fence and Gates
583 Mount Auburn Street, Mount Auburn Cemetery Reception House
40 Norris Street, Ellis School / North Cambridge Catholic High School
114 Oxford Street, Margaret Eustis / Korb House
237 Putnam Avenue/19-23 Blackstone Street, Riverside Bindery Complex
50 Quincy Street, Swedenborg Chapel
113 River Street, George and Jerediah Ricker House
41 Sacramento Street, William Dean Howells House
101 Third Street, Third Congregational Church
Immaculate Conception Church 430-432 Windsor Street (former Immaculate Conception Church and Rectory)
96 Winthrop Street, Hyde-Taylor House

98 Winthrop Street, Cox-Hicks House

 

Cambridge Historical Commission
September 2012

 

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