Historic preservation is a core value in Fredericksburg and vital for maintaining the community’s character. The Historic District, encompassing hundreds of buildings in the city’s historic downtown core, is a reference point for change. The district is a tangible link to the past, but accommodates a changing world.
Historic preservation is not intended to be a recreation of the past. Historic buildings are routinely adapted and upgraded to remain economically viable, while keeping their character-defining features intact. New buildings are integrated into their historic setting to eventually become historic in their own right. The City’s history is evident in its architecture and the community still functions and grows.
To ensure that development and redevelopment reflect the community’s values, a City Council-appointed citizen review board, the Architectural Review Board (ARB), evaluates projects within the Historic District. Its responsibility is to ensure that projects meet specific criteria for historic preservation to protect the character of the area.
Applications for certificates of appropriateness are to be submitted the third week of each month (deadline and meeting schedule) to be considered by the ARB at the next monthly public hearing, which occurs on the second Monday of each month. A certificate of appropriateness is required for new construction, additions, demolition, accessory structures, signs, fences, and alterations of buildings visible from a public right-of-way or City property. Regular maintenance and repair typically do not require review, but contact the Historic Resources Planner for questions about any project.
A Historic District Handbook (PDF) is available, at no cost, to any City resident. This publication includes an overview of the City’s history, a section on how historic overlay zoning works, guidelines for renovations as well as new construction in a historic context, a review of Fredericksburg’s architectural history, a glossary of architectural terms, and more. Citizens can obtain a hard copy through the Planning Services Division.
If you are interested in improving a historic property, you can learn about the financial incentives (PDF) available for historic buildings and how to qualify for a tax exemption. If listed in the National Register of Historic Places, properties may be eligible for state and federal Historic Tax Credit programs. National Register designation is not the same as the local Historic District overlay, though these two district types largely overlap in Fredericksburg. The National Register-listed Fredericksburg Historic District does not include any local regulatory oversight.