Historic Preservation

Historic preservation helps a community grow and prosper while honoring its cultural and architectural heritage. The City of Athens has designated one historic overlay district in which changes to the exteriors of historic buildings must be approved by commission. That overlay district is marked on the City of Athens Official Zoning Map and in the new Design Review Guidelines adopted in 2019. The downtown commercial district also contains a notable collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century architecture. The downtown commercial district is not designated as a historic overlay district, though property owners are encouraged to follow the design guidelines to preserve its historic character.

The Athens Historic Preservation Commission (AHPC) meets the first Thursday of each month at 3:30 p.m. at the Athens City Municipal Building, 815 North Jackson Street. The AHPC reviews Certificates of Appropriateness filed with the Community Development Office.

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Why preserve?

Historic Preservation Promotes Quality of Life

Historic buildings provide a community with unique character that distinguish it from others. Many historic buildings have been refashioned into museums, theaters, and libraries. Many buildings may not be significant on their own, but as a group they create a cohesive expression of architectural significance. Historic districts serve its residents and visitors who come to enjoy the distinct character found there.

Historic Buildings Often Last Longer than New Ones

There is no greener investment than preserving historic buildings. Buildings constructed before the 1960s are more structurally sound and can last much longer than more recent construction.

Historic Preservation Supports Taxpayers’ Investments

A community’s property owners invest in the city’s infrastructure such as sidewalks, light fixtures, roads, and sewer lines. These public investments must be maintained, much like a city’s historic neighborhoods. By preserving a historic district and its infrastructure, taxpayers enjoy the benefits of their investments.

Historic Preservation Creates Jobs

Investing in existing buildings creates thousands of job opportunities annually, more per capita than new construction. Unlike new construction, most (60-70%) of the expenses associated with rehabilitation and revitalization projects are for labor. When the labor is local, the community benefits from its members’ employment and from money being spent in local businesses.

Historic Preservation Increases Property Values

Dozens of studies have shown that property values stabilize or increase in historic overlay districts. Properties within National Register and local overlay historic districts usually have higher property values than adjoining areas without such designations, even if the architecture is similar.

Historic Preservation Attracts Visitors to Cities

Heritage tourism is a rapidly growing business and is hugely beneficial to local communities. As visitors come to historic sites and districts, they boost the economy by spending time and money in local businesses.

Historic Preservation Benefits Property Owners

Design guidelines help preserve a historic district’s unique character and prevents it from looking like any other streetscape in America. Inappropriate construction and remodeling can seriously alter a district’s character, which can have detrimental effects on homeowners. As the value and character of each property is influenced by the surrounding properties, design guidelines create a consistency which enriches homeowners.