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City of Bloomington, Indiana

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.

Apply to Make a Change

A Certificate of Appropriateness is required to make a change to a historically-designated property. Learn more about applying for a certificate through the Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission.

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.

  • Staff report
  • Question for staff
  • Owner's discussion
  • Questions for owner
  • Public Comment
  • Commission discussion and action

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 a 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

  • Catalyze neighborhood associations
  • Increase property values
  • Foster homeownership
  • Preserve Bloomington for everyone
  • Develop a network of assistance

Bloomington Historic Commission members are acknowledged as the most professionally accomplished in the state. Their expertise in historic research, real estate, construction, design, and materials acquisition can help you make the best choices to preserve your historic property.

Assist in the preservation of your property

The Historic Commission's role is to review any proposed changes to the exterior of a property listed on the local register. This ensures that those elements of the building that are significant to its character are preserved and its historic value is guaranteed.

Leverage a greater voice in the Community

A historic district designation gives your neighborhood an advantage in the competitive process of grant application and creates an identifiable voice in community affairs. It's a reason to ask: funds for appropriate signage, lamp posts, historic sidewalk repair are available through local, state, federal and nonprofit grants and low-interest loans targeted for historic properties.

Build Community Identity

Prospect Hill Historic District was placed on the local register in 1991. Since that time, many of the houses in the district have been restored, increasing property values and enhancing the neighborhood's unique identity. A strong neighborhood association has taken a leadership role in public affairs and developed innovative projects to further the theme of historic preservation within its boundaries.

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.