About Historic Designation

Landmark designation recognizes the importance of a building’s historical, architectural, cultural or geographical value in a community. There are three types of designation: local, national, and state.  These designations can be applied to an individual building/site or to a collection of buildings/area, known as a historic district. The designation types have differing criteria and degrees of regulation, though a property can potentially be designated by all three types.

The Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission

The most common form of designation in Saint Paul is designation through the City of Saint Paul’s Heritage Preservation Ordinance.  The ordinance was ratified in 1976. Since then, over 70 individual heritage sites and 9 heritage districts have been designated.

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.

What Are the Benefits of Landmark Designation and Preservation?

By designating your home and 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 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).