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Historic District Commission

Regualr HDC Meetings are held on the third Tuesday 
of the month at 5:30 pm, unless otherwise noted.

Guidelines for Historic Structures

The following guidelines are designed to help individual property owners formulate plans for the rehabilitation, preservation, and continued use of old buildings consistent with the intent of the "Standards for Historic Structures". The guidelines pertain to buildings of all occupancy and construction types, sizes, and materials. They apply to permanent and temporary construction on the exterior of historic buildings, although not all work implied in the Standards and Guidelines is required for each project.

Building Site

  1. Retain distinctive features such as size, scale, mass, and materials of buildings, including roofs, porches, and stairways that give a neighborhood its distinguishing character.
  2. Minimize the amount of new construction that is incompatible with the character of the district.
  3. Retain landscape features such as parks, gardens, streetlights, signs, benches, walkways, streets, alleys, and building setbacks that have traditionally linked buildings to their environment.
  4. When using new plant materials, fencing, walkways, streetlights, signs, and benches, select those, which are compatible with the character of the neighborhood.
  5. Base decisions for new site work on actual knowledge of the past appearance of the property found in photographs, drawings, newspapers, and tax records. If changes are made they should be carefully evaluated in light of the past appearances of the site.
Building: Structural Systems

  1. Recognize the special problems inherent in the structural systems of historic buildings, especially where there are visible signs of cracking, deflection, or failure.
  2. Undertake stabilization and repair of weakened structural members and systems. Leaving known structural problems untreated will cause continuing deterioration and will shorten the life of the structure.
  3. Replace historically important structural members only when necessary. Supplementing existing structural systems when damaged or inadequate.
Building: Exterior Features

  1. Retain original masonry and mortar. Whenever possible, without the application of any surface treatment unless required to solve a specific problem that has been studied and identified. Brick and stone surfaces may have been painted or whitewashed for practical and aesthetic reasons. Removing paint from masonry surfaces may subject the building to damage and change its appearance. Clean masonry only when necessary to halt deterioration or to remove graffiti and stains.
  2. Repoint only those mortar joints where there is evidence of moisture problems or when sufficient mortar is missing to allow water to stand in the mortar joint. However, when new mortar is required, it should duplicate old mortar in composition, texture, joint size, method of application, and joint profile.
  3. Avoid the application of new material, which is inappropriate or was unavailable when the building was constructed, such as artificial brick siding, artificial cast stone brick veneer, asbestos or asphalt shingles, and vinyl or aluminum siding. Such material can also contribute to the deterioration of the structure from moisture and insects.
  4. Replace missing significant architectural features, and repair or replace, where necessary, deteriorated architectural features of wood, iron, cast iron, terra cotta, tile and brick. Retain those architectural features such as siding, cornices, brackets, railings, shutters, windows, doorway pediments, hand rails, balusters, columns and trims, brackets and roof decoration.
  5. Preserve the original roof shape and retain the original roofing material, whenever possible. When not possible, apply new roofing material that is appropriate to the style and period of the building and neighborhood.
  6. Preserve or replace where necessary, all architectural features that give the roof its essential character, such as dormer windows, cupolas, cornices, brackets, chimneys, cresting, and weather vanes. Avoid changing the character of the roof by adding new inappropriate features such as dormer windows, vents or skylights.
  7. Avoid altering the size of windowpanes or sash. Such changes destroy the scale and proportion of the building.
  8. Retain and repair existing window and door openings including window sash, glass, lintels, sills, architrave, shutters, doors, pediments, hoods, steps, and all hardware whenever possible. If new sash and doors are used, duplicate the material, design, and the hardware of the older window sash and doors.
  9. Install visually unobtrusive storm windows and doors, where needed, that do not damage existing frames and that can be removed in the future. Avoid aluminum storm and screen window with insulating glass combinations that require the removal of original windows and doors.
  10. Use original doors and door hardware when they can be repaired and reused in place.
  11. Avoid installing plastic, canvas, or metal strip awnings or artificial shutters that detract from the character and appearance of the building.
  12. Avoid enclosing porches and steps in a manner that destroys their intended appearance.
  13. Retain porches and steps that are appropriate to the building and its development. Porches or additions reflecting later architectural styles are often important to the building's historical integrity and, wherever possible, should be retained.
New Construction

  1. Keep new additions to a minimum, making them compatible in scale, building materials, and texture.
  2. Design new work to be compatible in setbacks, size, scale, materials, and texture with the earlier building and the neighborhood.
  3. Avoid additions that increase the height of the building and are visible when viewing the principal facades.
Mechanical Systems: Heating, Air Conditioning, Electrical, Plumbing, Fire Protection

  1. Avoid installing necessary mechanical systems in areas and spaces that require alteration to the structural integrity and exterior physical appearance of the building.
  2. Avoid causing unnecessary damage to the plan, materials, and exterior appearance of the building when installing mechanical systems.
  3. Avoid attaching exterior cables and equipment and to the principal elevations of the building.
  4. Place television antennae and mechanical equipment, such as air conditioners, in an inconspicuous location.
Safety and Code Requirements

  1. Comply with code requirements in such a manner that the essential character of the exterior of a building is preserved intact.
  2. Work with Utica code officials to investigate alternative life safety measures that preserve the architectural integrity of the exterior of the building.
The Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation
State Historic Preservation Office

Preservation Briefs
A helpful resource for your preservation project!


Shelby Township Historical Committee
Historical Facts About Utica
Historical Pictures