About Historic Preservation Commissions

Local historic preservation commissions are the most effective means for promoting sustained historic preservation initiatives in our towns and counties. In North Carolina, the creation of such commissions is a local option authorized and governed by NC GS 160D-940 through 160D-951, 160D-102, 160D-303, 160D-404(c), and 105-278 which enables local governing boards to establish commissions to study and recommend designation of local historic districts and landmarks. Commissions are appointed by the local governing board and operate in strict adherence to procedures and standards required by the enabling legislation. 

Over 100 local historic preservation commissions are active across North Carolina. Click on a map pin below to see contact information for the commission. Certified Local Government commissions have green pins. 

View North Carolina Historic Preservation Commissions in a larger map. Click here for a static state map (jpeg) showing participating municipal governments in joint commissions with counties. 

Frequently Asked Questions

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When a local government decides to provide for the preservation of the historical, cultural, or archaeological resources within its jurisdiction, it can pass an ordinance to create a historic preservation commission. Members of a preservation commission are selected by the local governing board from the general public. A majority of the members must demonstrate a special interest in history, architecture, archaeology, or related fields.

A commission's primary powers are (1) recommending to the local governing board properties to be designated as historic districts and landmarks and (2) reviewing applications from owners of designated landmarks and structures in historic districts who plan to make changes to their properties. A commission's first charge is to conduct an inventory of the area's historic resources. Its other powers include conducting a public education program and acquiring historic properties.

North Carolina Historic Preservation Commission Roster. (PDF) With staff contacts, including e-mail links and links to commission websites where available.

Commissions are usually staffed by a member by the city or county planning department. If your county or municipality has a commission, your local planning department will be another source of information.

A Letter to George:  How to Keep the Preservation Commission Out of Court and Avoid Being Sued (PDF), by Robert E. Stipe. Bob Stipe's 1994 paper on understanding the responsibilities of a preservation commission and avoiding pitfalls in the work of a commission.