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Historic Preservation

Historic designation, districts, and preservation-related information

Am I required to restore my building or make it look old?

No. The Historic Preservation Ordinance  chapter 17.32, does not require you to restore your building or to make improvements when you don’t have any plans to do so.  Further, making a newer building look old is not required – in fact, it is contrary to the guidelines.  If you decide to improve your property or carry out repairs, the ordinance requires the project to be consistent with the overall architectural character of the building and the district as a whole.

If you would like more information regarding this subject, please visit the Historic Preservation page of the City's website.

Can aluminum, vinyl, cement board or other synthetic materials be used on buildings in the Historic District?

There is no specific rule prohibiting certain types of materials on buildings in the Historic District. This applies to siding, doors, windows, fences, or any other structure.

Decisions on the use of materials in the Historic District are made on a case-by-case basis by the Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission assesses each individual proposal against the standards in the Historic Preservation Ordinance for the purpose of issuing a "Certificate of Appropriateness" or COA.

Numerous factors are considered, including:

  • The existing materials and their condition.
  • Whether materials are original to the building and whether they can be preserved.
  • The rating of the building in the Historic District Architectural Survey.
  • The conditions in the neighborhood, including the materials on nearby buildings.
  • The details of the proposed materials including size, texture, finishing, installation, etc.

Property owners are encouraged to consult with the Historic Commission during the planning stages of any project to determine if their proposal meets the applicable guidelines.

If you would like more information regarding this subject, please visit the Historic Preservation page of the City's website.

Can I add to my existing historic building?

Yes.  Additions can be made to historic buildings if they are compatible with the architectural character of the original building, and meet all zoning requirements such as lot coverage and setbacks.

Please see our Historic Preservation page on the City website for more information.

How do I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness and how long does it take?

To request a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) review, submit a COA application form. Information on the review process and submittal requirements are listed on the application form, located on the Certificate of Appropriateness web page.

A COA application can be submitted before a building permit is applied for, or at the same time. For larger projects, it is recommended to obtain COA approval before preparing construction drawings for building permit.

In most cases, a COA can be obtained within the same time frame as a building permit. This is usually two to three weeks, depending on the nature of the proposed work.

What are the benefits that St. Charles receives for being a Certified Local Government (CLG)?

The benefits to having CLG Status include:      

  1. The City plays a direct role in the National Register of Historic Places nomination process.
  2. The City is eligible to receive grant funds set aside specifically for CLG projects.
  3. The City may participate in other state and federal historic preservation programs.
  4. The City may receive direct technical assistance from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA).
  5. Owners of income-producing property in the Historic District may be eligible for Federal Income Tax Credits.
  6. Homeowners may be eligible for a property tax freeze relative to improvements made in compliance with The Historic Preservation Ordinance.