Old Cambridge Historic District



Welcome to the home page for the Old Cambridge Historic District in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On this page you will find application information as well as district news, meeting updates, and review guidelines.  This page will be updated periodically by staff of the Historical Commission. If you have any questions about the district, please e-mail Sarah Burks at sburks@cambridgema.gov or call the office at 617/349-4683 or TTY at 617/349-6112.

Fall 2014 District Newsletter

District Map

HD Brochure

Meeting Dates

Legal Ads



Review Guidelines



State Enabling Legislation


Back to Districts
Overview Page

The Old Cambridge Historic District includes most of Brattle Street, the Cambridge Common and its surroundings, Berkeley and Follen Streets, and parts of Elmwood Avenue, Craigie Street, Garden Street, and Harvard Yard.  The district has recently been expanded to include several properties surrounding Arsenal Square.  Some of the properties in this district are important to the City's pre- revolutionary past; others illustrate aspects of Cambridge's 19th- century development. 

The district is regulated by the Cambridge Historical Commission, a group of Cambridge citizens appointed by the City Manager.  Administration of district business is provided by staff members of the Historical Commission, a department of the city government.

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

A Certificate of Appropriateness will be issued for reviewable alterations which the historic district 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 district.

One of these certificates is always necessary to obtain a building permit for work in a historic district.  All of the Commission's regulatory approvals have a life of six months. This means that the owner of the property has six months, from the date a certificate is issued, to obtain a building permit. Upon written request, the chair of the Commission may issue a six-month extension. If an extension is not issued, the owner must resubmit the Application for Certificate for the Commission's review.

About the CHC Meetings & Process Projects & Services History & Links
Return to CHC Homepage Return to City's Homepage