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The Historic District Commission is a seven-member volunteer board, appointed by the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners, that reviews applications for exterior changes within the Historic District. A majority of the commission’s members have specialized training or an interest in architecture, preservation, archaeology, history or building methods.
The commission’s mission is to identify, protect and preserve Hillsborough’s architectural resources and to educate the public about those resources and preservation in general. In its quasi-judicial role, the commission hears evidence, determines relevant facts and then applies the law as it concerns the exterior changes to or demolition of any properties as well as new construction in the district.
The commission meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in the Town Barn, located on the Town Hall campus at 101 E. Orange St. Access is from East Corbin Street.
- Historic District Commission Rules of Procedure
- Navigating the Historic District Commission Review Process
Certificate of Appropriateness Applications
It is unlawful to begin construction, moving, demolition, alteration or restoration of any structure or site until a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued by the Historic District Commission.
It is suggested that you contact staff when considering any exterior changes to your property. To schedule a pre-application meeting or submit an application, contact Planner Stephanie Trueblood. The righthand sidebar includes links to information that will help in the review process.
The deadline for submitting applications for a Certificate of Appropriateness is noon Wednesday two weeks prior to a Historic District Commission meeting date. Deadline dates are available on the Administrative Manual for the Unified Development Ordinance page. See Appendix B for the deadlines. Submittal of a complete application by the deadline will not guarantee time on the next agenda.
Hillsborough Historic District Design Guidelines
The Hillsborough Historic District Design Guidelines were developed to guide the commission in reviewing applications for:
- Changes to existing buildings
- New construction and additions
- Changes to historic district setting
The guidelines also provide information on exempt and minor works, as well as other architectural and historic resources. They are a useful tool for property owners, contractors, real estate agents and residents.
Hard copies of the design guidelines are available from the Planning Department for a fee.
Hillsborough Historic District’s Period of Significance Extended to 1963
The period of significance for Hillsborough’s historic district has been extended from 1939 to 1963, according to a recently completed inventory of structures.
The architectural survey update was started last fall after the town received a $12,000 grant from the federal Historic Preservation Fund to update the historic inventory and research the district’s period of significance. The completed inventory — carried out by Heather Wagner Slane of HMW Preservation in Durham — will be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Register of Historic Places. The grant — administered by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, which houses the State Historic Preservation Office — was matched with local funds of $8,000.
Hillsborough’s governmental, religious, commercial and residential properties illustrate the town’s gradual development over more than 200 years. To establish the Hillsborough Historic District’s period of significance as circa 1754 to circa 1963, the updated inventory includes documentation on the district’s development from 1940 to 1963, an architectural overview of the 1900-to-1963 period, and a complete inventory list. For the update, the district was fully surveyed, with new photographs and written descriptions prepared for its approximately 600 parcels.
The research into the district’s period of significance found the 1940-to-1963 period of development is locally significant for its African-American heritage and education under the National Register’s criterion for structures associated with events that have made significant contribution to the broad patterns of American history.
The district is also significant under the criterion for architecture, with examples ranging from 18th- and 19th-century Colonial- and Federal-style houses to early 20th-century Colonial Revival- and Craftsman-style houses and brick commercial buildings, to mid- to late 20th-century Minimal Traditional-style houses and ranches. Its range of architectural styles — dating from circa 1754 to circa 1963 and beyond — includes both high style and vernacular examples of these nationally popular styles.
Although the town remains the governmental center of Orange County and construction continued beyond 1963 on undeveloped parcels within the district, the post-1963 period is not of exceptional significance.
When the district first was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, it had an implied period of significance of circa 1754 to circa 1920, with the beginning date reflecting the year the town was laid out by William Churton. Hillsborough’s nomination to the National Register focused on the town’s 18th- and 19th-century development and included architectural descriptions and context for the earliest and most prominent structures. Additional documentation submitted in 1980 and 1984 identified archaeological resources within the district. In 1989, additional documentation approved by the Keeper of the National Register extended the district’s period of significance to 1939 to encompass the development of a majority of the downtown commercial buildings.
The new inventory includes an updated map reflecting the changes to the district’s period of significance; however, the original district boundary described in the 1970s nomination remains unchanged.
Hillsborough’s historic district includes 376 primary contributing resources, including 370 buildings, four sites, one structure and one object. The district’s 222 non-contributing primary resources include 218 buildings, two sites and two structures. The non-contributing resources are scattered throughout the district, although a higher concentration of non-contributing properties is at the district’s northwest corner and on the south side of the Eno River, east of South Churton Street. Secondary resources include 183 contributing resources and 183 non-contributing resources — most of them sheds, garages and carports.
|Name||Term Start||Term End||Board|
|Anna Currie / Vice Chair||03/14/2011||03/31/2014||Historic District Commission|
|Mark Bell / Chair||06/08/2009||06/08/2015||Historic District Commission|
|Mike Irwin||06/11/2012||06/30/2015||Historic District Commission|
|Holly Snyder||11/09/2009||11/30/2015||Historic District Commission|
|David McCullough||11/09/2009||11/30/2015||Historic District Commission|
|Candice Cobb||11/09/2009||11/30/2015||Historic District Commission|
|Reid Highley||10/14/2013||10/31/2016||Historic District Commission|
Meetings in the Next 60 Days
|Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 7:00pm||Historic District Commission|
|Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 7:00pm||Historic District Commission|
Previous Meeting Agenda and Minutes
For a list of meetings including agenda and minutes, click here.
For a list of archived meeting files, click here.
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Historic District Commission
- Phone: 919-732-1270 Ext. 74
- Email: Planner
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To volunteer, check the Boards and Commissions page for current vacancies and to fill out an application.