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About Local Designation

The intent of local historic designation is to preserve the property in perpetuity. After a property is placed in the local register of historic districts, all exterior changes are reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. This is to protect the property from inappropriate changes that harm its historic character. Even when an owner sells a designated property, it maintains its historic status. A designated property cannot be demolished without either the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission or by the owner proving that it cannot earn a reasonable return on its value.

Bloomington's Local Historic Districts

There are now ten official multiple resource districts (districts containing multiple properties):

There are many other single properties that are protected under this local historic designation. There are also many Conservation Districts in Bloomington.

Is your property locally designated? Go to the City of Bloomington Main Page and enter your address in the box below "My Bloomington."

Design Guidelines

Design guidelines are developed by the neighborhood in collaboration with the Historic Commission. They are customized for each historic district to provide information about the appropriateness of exterior changes to historic buildings.

Residents can compare their proposals to the guidelines before submitting for review by the Historic Preservation Commission. The goal of any historic district is to preserve the character-defining details of the buildings within their boundaries.

Prospect Hill Guidelines (PDF 540.61 KB)

Fairview Historic District Guidelines (PDF 14.06 MB)

Elm Heights Design Guidelines (PDF 2.56 MB) - Read more about Elm Heights Historic District

University Courts Design Guidelines (PDF 1.93 MB)

McDoel Guidelines (PDF 684.03 KB)

Greater Prospect Hill Design Guidelines (PDF 459.75 KB)

Apply to Make Changes

Application form for Certificate of Appropriateness (PDF 22.61 KB) There is no fee to apply for a COA. A few photographs, plans, a map and a description of the work area is all you need. The review will take place at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission. A Certificate of Appropriateness is much like a building permit. It should be displayed in your window while work is in progress. If your work also requires a building permit from the Monroe County Building Department, the COA should be attached to the building permit application.

Required items include

A complete application must be filed at least eight days before the regular meeting to be placed upon the next agenda. Call or email the Historic Preservation Program Manager at 812-349-3507 or for more information

Applications for Designation

Application for Historic Designation (PDF 8.72 KB)

Required Meetings

The Bloomington Commission meets on the second and fourth Thursday of every month. Two meetings are required for local designation, one for the Commission to consider the merit of the property, and the public hearing itself which must be noticed in the newspaper, and to the owners and all adjacent owners.

At the public hearing, the Commission may vote to recommend designation to Common Council based upon historic criteria. The Commission prefers to hold a very informal meeting but the process of the hearing follows predictable steps.

If historic designation is recommended, then a report and map are sent to the Common Council.

The ordinance creating the local historic district is considered at three Common Council meetings. Public participation is solicited during the committee of the whole and final action. The district is implemented only after Council votes its approval and the Mayor signs the ordinance into law.

Criteria for Designation

Any property or district considered for local historic designation should be 50 years old and must meet at least one of the following criteria:


a. Has significant character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation; or is associated with the life of a person significant in the past; or

b. Is the site of an historic event with a significant effect upon society; or

c. Exemplifies the cultural, political, economic, social, or historic heritage of the community

Architecturally worthy:

a. Embodies those distinguishing characteristics of an architectural or engineering type; or

b. Is the work of a designer whose individual work has significantly influenced the development of the community; or

c. Is the work of a designer of such prominence that such work gains its value from the designer's reputation; or

d. Contains elements of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship which represent a significant innovation; or

e. Contains any architectural style, detail, or other element in danger of being lost; or visual feature of a neighborhood or the city; or

f. Owing to its unique location or physical characteristics, represents an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood or the city; or

g. Portrays the environment in an era of history characterized by a distinctive architectural style

Benefits/Incentives for Neighborhoods and Property Owners

Find out if your property is eligible for local designation. Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory Interim Report is available for sale in the HAND office.