The goal of heritage preservation is to preserve the unique identity, character, and culture of a community or city through designating historically significant resources, structures, or spaces for protection. Historic places connect us to our heritage and help us to understand our past; they help define our city's sense of identity and support an enhanced quality of life and economic vitality.

Heritage Preservation has been a part of the City of Saint Paul for over 40 years. In 1976 the City of Saint Paul ratified the Heritage Preservation Ordinance (municipal code chapter 73) which allows for the protection and preservation of historic sites with the city. Community interest in preservation along with the expertise of HP staff and the Heritage Preservation Commission has resulted in nine Heritage Preservation Districts, and over 75 individually designated sites of which 56 are listed nationally.

Levels of Designation

Heritage sites can be designated at a local, state, or national level. Each designation has different criteria and degrees of regulation, though a property can potentially be designated by at all three levels.

Local Designation

Local landmark designation recognizes the importance of a building’s historical, architectural, cultural or geographical value in a community. These designations can be applied to an individual building/site or to a collection of buildings/area, known as a historic district. The purpose of designating a site locally is not to prevent change but to recognize the structure's contribution to the community and provide guidance through alterations, restorations, or improvements. Alterations, demolitions, and new construction activities remain possible but are first reviewed by the Heritage Preservation Commission to ensure that compatibility is maintained with the historic character recognized through a property’s designation.

Statewide Designation

The state of Minnesota has a State Register of Historic Places along with designated State Historic Districts. These are outstanding properties that possess historical, architectural, archeological, and aesthetic values that are of paramount importance in the development of the state that also represents and reflect elements of the state's cultural, social, economic, religious, political, architectural, and aesthetic heritage.

National Designation

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a nationwide program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. Properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places are administered by the National Park Service through the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office.


The most common form of designation in Saint Paul is through the City's Heritage Preservation Ordinance.

Designating your building, property or neighborhood as a City of Saint Paul heritage site or district recognizes its local significance and ensures that it will continue to maintain its historic character and contribute to the historic character of the neighborhood. The Heritage Preservation Ordinance gives the city of Saint Paul the authority to regulate and protect heritage sites and districts and aims to:

  • Designate, preserve, protect, enhance and perpetuate historic buildings or sites;
  • Foster civic pride;
  • Protect and enhance the city’s attraction to tourists and visitors;
  • Promote the use of historical or architectural structures or districts for the education, stimulation, and welfare of the people of the city;
  • Promote good urban design; and
  • Encourage ownership and utilization of historic buildings or sites.

In order to be considered for local designation a structure or neighborhood must meet criteria for designation as outlined in the Heritage Preservation Ordinance Sec. 73.05;

  • Its character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City of Saint Paul, State of Minnesota, or the United States.
  • Its location as a site of a significant historic event.
    • Its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the culture and development of the City of Saint Paul.
    • Its embodiment of distinguishing characteristics of an architectural or engineering type or specimen.
    • Its identification as the work of an architect, engineer, or master builder whose individual work has influenced the development of the City of Saint Paul.
    • Its embodiment of elements of architectural or engineering design, detail, materials or craftsmanship which represent a significant architectural or engineering innovation.
  • Its unique location or singular physical characteristic representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community or the City of Saint Paul.


By designating your home or property as a local heritage site, or by owning a home in a locally designated heritage district, you may benefit from a variety of incentives. These include:

  • Offering official recognition that your property is an important part of Saint Paul’s history
  • Creating access to Heritage Preservation staff to provide architectural design & improvement guidance
  • Initiating possible increases to the value of your property and neighborhood over time
  • Ensuring the protection of your building’s or property’s character for future generations
  • Potentially qualifying for Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits and Minnesota Historic Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credits and grant opportunities (if your building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and your proposed rehabilitation meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and are income producing).

Last Edited: August 11, 2021