Introduction

Since its establishment in 1836, the City of Houston has encountered various transformations and undergone many changes, all of which can be recognized today through our remaining historic structures. In October 2010, Houston took a tremendous step to further protect the historic character of our city by approving changes to the Historic Preservation Ordinance. Through this ordinance, the City of Houston offers methods to maintain Houston’s architectural history. Landmark and Protected Landmark designations allow for the recognition and protection of individual historic structures; while Historic District designations preserve neighborhoods by classifying a specific area of a community as significant.


Certificates of Appropriateness (COA)

Alterations to the exterior of a City-designated Landmark, Protected Landmark, or a property located in a City-designated Historic District require a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) which are generally issued through the review and approval of a project by the Houston Archaeological and Historic Commission (HAHC). This includes restoration, rehabilitation, additions, exterior alterations, new construction in a historic district, relocation and demolition of contributing structures in a historic district, or demolition of a Protected Landmark. For certain minor alterations that do not affect the historic character of the building, a COA may be administratively approved by the Planning and Development Department within a few days. Ordinary maintenance and repair does not require a COA.


Historic Preservation Web Manual

The Historic Preservation Web Manual provides a road map for obtaining the approvals necessary to undertake such changes. They are intended to provide clear direction to property owners and professionals with regard to modifying, maintaining and protecting the historic resources in our communities.

This manual, however, is not intended to take the place of consultation with the City of Houston’s Planning and Development Department. Historic Preservation staff members are trained in navigating the requirements of the Historic Preservation code and assisting property owners and building professionals in the process of historic property stewardship. Individuals engaged in work relating to landmarks or structures located within historic districts are strongly encouraged to initiate discussions with the staff at the earliest point possible. Early, and frequent, conversations will ensure a smoother process and a better, more cost effective product. The staff is eager to assist you with your project.

Contact the Historic Preservation Office: 832.393.6556 or historicpreservation@houstontx.gov

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Use this Manual to

  • Plan a project to modify or maintain a landmark or property located within a historic district
  • Navigate the Certificate of Appropriateness process and the criteria used to evaluate and approve your historic property enhancement project
  • Learn about the City of Houston’s Historic Districts through maps, photos, sketches and an overview of the defining historic characteristics of each neighborhood
  • Discover Houston’s Landmarks and Protected Landmarks, view photos and download the historic designation report (coming soon!)
  • Review Glossary terms pertaining to historic preservation, the code of ordinance, and architectural details