As Minnesota's capital city, Saint Paul features numerous historic sites and properties that are important to preserve. Led by the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC), the City of Saint Paul is committed to working with property owners to ensure that the history of our community can be enjoyed for years to come.

The Heritage Preservation Commission serves as an advisory body to the Mayor and the City Council on municipal heritage preservation matters. It was created by city ordinance in 1976 to protect and promote the heritage of the City of Saint Paul. The Commission consists of thirteen voting members who are residents of Saint Paul and are appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council. One of the members is a representative of the Ramsey County Historical Society and three of the members are professionally registered architects.

The City of Saint Paul is a Certified Local Government (CLG) in the National Historic Preservation Program. The City is certified as having a heritage preservation commission and program that meets federal and state standards. Saint Paul's status as a CLG confirms its commitment to support a qualified heritage preservation commission, maintain a system for the survey and inventory of historic properties, enforce appropriate state and local legislation for the designation and protection of historic properties, and provide for public participation in its preservation program.

A Brief History of the Heritage Preservation Commission

The first notable historic preservation efforts in the United States came prior to the Civil War with efforts to preserve the homes of John Hancock and George Washington. In 1925, efforts to preserve the historic buildings of the French Quarter in New Orleans let to the creation of the Vieux Carre Commission and later, to the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance. In 1930 a similar historic preservation ordinance was adopted in Charleston, South Carolina.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation began in 1949 with goals to provide leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's historic places. In New York City, the destruction of Pennsylvania Station in 1964 shocked many nationwide into supporting preservation. 

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 was established as a program for the preservation of historic properties throughout the nation as a response to widespread loss of historic resources due in part to Urban Renewal. The NHPA resulted in the creation of the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP), National Historic Landmarks, State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO), and state laws relating to preservation and cultural resources.

The loss of neighborhoods for the construction of Interstate 94, the demolition of the Ryan Hotel in 1962, and the near loss of the Federal Courts Building (Landmark Center) in 1972 caused Saint Paul citizens and politicians to recognize the need for protections for Saint Paul historic resources. In 1974 the City drafted a historic preservation ordinance which led to the creation of the Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC).

The only comprehensive survey of Saint Paul was completed in 1983 as part of a study of Saint Paul and Ramsey County. The study and report included inventories of approximately 5,000. In 2000, the City of Saint Paul funded The Historic Resource Survey, 1997-2000. This survey led to the development of six historic context studies; Pioneer Houses, Transportation Corridors, Neighborhood Commercial Centers, Churches, Synagogues & Religious Buildings, Residential Real Estate Development, and Downtown Saint Paul. This survey project also resulted in a database of approximately 6,000 inventoried historic structures in Saint Paul.

In 2010 the City of Saint Paul added a chapter in the Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan on historic preservation. The chapter examined past preservation activities in the community and identified new strategies and policies.

The HPC engages the community with a variety of events that span preservation of the built and natural environment, exploration of our historic neighborhoods, and celebration of our diverse communities that define Saint Paul's history.


  • By-laws and rules of procedure (effective 7/14/1988; updated 2/11/2019)
  • Applicant presentations to the Heritage Preservation Commission: This policy summarizes the portion of Heritage Preservation Commission meetings in which applicants are allotted time to present their applications to the Commission. (effective 1/25/2018)
  • Applications that require Heritage Preservation Commission review: This summarizes the policy of the Heritage Preservation Commission of what level of review is required per project type within a heritage district or at a heritage site. (effective 8/24/2017)
  • Design review applications - insufficient for review: Applications that do not include all of the materials included in the appropriate submittal checklist or does not meet the submittal documentation standards of the Heritage Preservation Commission are deemed insufficient for review. This is the Commission policy on handling applications that are insufficient for review. (effective 8/24/2017)
  • Online/virtual meeting policy and procedure: Online/virtual meetings are only utilized during declared State of Emergency in the State of Minnesota or an Emergency Declaration by the City of Saint Paul and it has been determined that it is not practical or prudent for the City of Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission to hold in-person meetings pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 13D.02. (effective 4/20/2020)
  • Paperless HPC plan: As a part of the City of Saint Paul's participation in the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, the Heritage Preservation Commission has gone paperless. (effective 1/13/2020)
  • Public notice policy and procedure (effective 1/11/2021)
  • Public testimony to the Heritage Preservation Commission: This summarizes the policy of the Heritage Preservation Commission pertaining to public testimony heard by the Commission. (effective 11/2/2017; updated 2/11/2019)
  • Renaming policy of the Heritage Preservation Commission: This summarizes the policy of the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) pertaining to reviews of name changes of any place, building, or object in Saint Paul which has had its current name for fifty (50) years or more. (effective 3/22/2018)
  • Resolution designating Heritage Preservation staff as Commission designee: Heritage Preservation staff is responsible for review of submitted applications and issuing administrative approvals for certain applications. (effective 1/11/2018)

Last Edited: May 10, 2023