About buying homes in historic districts

historic-district-cover-765x1024The College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park neighborhoods all include areas designated by Greensboro as historic districts. Even though the city has had historic districts for more than 35 years, the Historic Preservation Commission and the city Planning Department still occasionally hear from newcomers who say they have no idea that property ownership in historic districts carries responsibilities not found in other neighborhoods. Buyers are responsible for knowing that:

  • Homes in the historic districts are under all the same regulations as homes in the rest of the city. For example, no more than four unrelated individuals can occupy a single residential unit, and parking is prohibited in front yards.
  • Exterior renovations must comply with the city’s Historic District Manual and Design Guidelines. Before work can begin, most projects require a certificate of appropriateness approved by the city historic preservation staff (for small-scale and routine projects) or the Historic Preservation Commission, which meets on the last Wednesday of each month.
  • Projects requiring prior approval include placement of satellite dishes, replacement of windows, adding or expanding parking areas and walkways, and cutting down trees of at least 4 inches in diameter at breast height.
  • Projects that do not require approval include interior renovations, exterior paint colors, and repairs in which there is no change in materials or design.
  • To maintain the historic character of the historic districts, the guidelines rule out some relatively modern exterior renovations that are taken for granted in other neighborhoods. For example, the replacement of wood siding or exterior doors with aluminum or vinyl is considered inappropriate for homes in the historic districts. In addition, the division of single-family houses into apartments is not allowed.

The historic designations of College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park have increased property values greatly. The neighborhoods have improved dramatically in every way thanks to the commitment of property owners and the city to maintain these neighborhoods’ historic character. Preserving this architectural and cultural heritage is a rewarding opportunity and responsibility shared by all of the homeowners of Greensboro’s historic districts.