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Category Archives: Preservation Planning

Historic Preservation – Building Information

National Register

Historic Building Research

Historic Building Rehabilitation Information

Community Preservation

National Register Nominations | September 2014

In October 2014, the Board of State History, for the Utah Division of State History, will review five (5) nominations to the National Register. These nominations are:

John & Margaret Price House in Salt Lake City

Murray City Diesel Power Plant in Murray

Rawsel & Jane Bradford House in Murray

James & Mary Jane Miller House in Murray

John & Sarah Jane Wayman House in Centerville

The Board of State History meets on October 17, 2014. These meetings are public. To view or print the meeting agenda, please visit the Board of State History on this web site. Please note: agenda for October 2014 may be delayed due to the production of the sixty-second annual Utah State History conference.

Current National Register Nominations

Utah’s historic properties are frequently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Recent nominations to the National Register that are currently under review include:

To see historic properties in Utah that were recently approved for the National Register, click here.

To search all historic properties in Utah, click here.

“Profits Through Preservation” Summary Report From Utah Heritage Foundation NOW AVAILABLE

The Utah Heritage Foundation recently released its report entitled,  “Profits through preservation: The economic impact of historic preservation in Utah.” The study, conducted by PlaceEconomics of Washington, D.C., aimed to determine the impact of historic preservation on Utah’s total economy. You can read all about it in the Full Report Summary or a check out the highlights.

Downzoning and Historic Preservation


Salt Lake Pressed Brick Company kiln

A vital tool

Over the past 35 years the State Historic Preservation Office has worked with dozens of communities throughout Utah as they have struggled to preserve their historic buildings.

Some communities we have worked with have aspired to preserve not only individual buildings but also entire neighborhoods of historic homes.

Communities have reported to us that the best tools for doing so have been historic district designation and downzoning.

Historic districts

Historic district designation is a natural step toward the preservation of older neighborhoods because the overwhelming majority of homes are often “historic” (over 50 years old). This doesn’t necessarily mean that important people lived there or that significant events occurred in all of these older homes. Collectively, however, these homes often represent both important architectural trends as well as the overall development of the city.

National standards for what constitutes a historic district are usually applied when evaluating and creating a historic district. The State Historic Preservation Office is available to help guide cities through this process.

Historic district designation accomplishes two important tasks.

First, it establishes an identity for the neighborhood that, in turn, generates a sense of distinction and pride among its residents. This can be a powerful force for good (evidence the Capitol Hill and Avenues neighborhoods in Salt Lake City and the Eccles Avenue Historic District in Ogden). What more could a city hope for than to have its residents take pride in where they live and to work together to promote their community?

Second, historic districts provide a significant financial incentive for property owners to upgrade and restore their homes.

Tax credits

The State of Utah has expressed its commitment to the cause of historic residential neighborhoods by providing an income tax credit to those who restore homes in historic districts. Homeowners can save 20 percent of their restoration costs–including upgrading plumbing and electrical systems, re-roofing, painting, and virtually anything related to improving the structural and cosmetic qualities of historic homes.

This program is administered through our office, the State Historic Preservation Office, which is committed to helping average homeowners participate in the revitalization of older homes.


Communites have found that downzoning can be the single most important step they can take toward stabilizing and revitalizing a neighborhood. It removes the incentive to demolish historic homes to make way for multi-family dwellings or businesses. If that incentive is not erased, then the “playing field” will always be tilted in favor of those who simply want to make money in the neighborhood versus those who want to live in it and enjoy its qualities as a residential district. Downzoning often benefits residents

Downzoning gives homeowners confidence that the positive qualities of their neighborhood will not be diminished by incompatible developments. If a majority of the property owners want the neighborhood downzoned, and if the majority of properties are still being used for the “downzoned” purpose, then it only makes sense for a city to respect the desire of that majority, those who actually live in the neighborhood.

When to consider downzoning

Usually, a survey of current uses is a first step toward downzoning. Sometimes, however, the overwhelming support for downzoning by residents is enough to convince a city that downzoning is the thing to do. That was the case with three older neighborhoods in Bountiful, where approximately 70 percent of the residents supported the change in the late 1990s.

What about property rights?

Development-minded property owners may resist downzoning because they feel it limits their ability to maximize profit from their land.

But downzoning does not deny property owners the right to profit from their land. Like zoning of all kinds, it simply places some boundaries on the extent to which property can be developed.

The desires of a few individuals who hope to maximize their profits should not come at the expense of the majority of residents. The values of the community should be respected.

Trends toward downzoning

It is important to remember that the current zones were often created decades ago when these older neighborhoods were in decline. These areas were viewed as marginal neighborhoods that were no longer favored residential districts. That is no longer the case. Older neighborhoods are now valued for their historic architecture, mature landscaping, proximity to community services and transportation, and even their affordability. Many families are drawn to these neighborhoods. They care about the future of these neighborhoods. They are usually the ones who promote downzoning.

Tools for revitalization

A number of Utah’s older cities could benefit from both downzoning neighborhoods and historic district designation. Though many Utah cities have changed too much to allow for historic district designation in their older neighborhoods, many still have a chance to preserve important facets of their history as well as to revitalize neighborhoods that have been under-valued and under-appreciated for years.

Twenty-five years ago no one would have imagined that the high-crime, rental-riddled Avenues neighborhood in Salt Lake City would become one of the most desirable residential districts in the city. Its transformation has been due to both downzoning and historic district designation.

Smaller cities can experience these same improvements. The entire community benefits when residents care for the future of their neighborhoods and when the city supports those residents through appropriate civic actions, such as downzoning and historic district designation.

For more information, contact:

Roger Roper, 801-245-7251
State Historic Preservation Office
Utah State History
300 S. Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Fax: 801-533-3503

Working With Local Governments


The Farmington, Utah, City Museum (old city hall)

In 2008, the Farmington city council, planning commission, city staff and preservation commission worked together to craft a new and effective preservation ordinance that met everyone’s expectations and needs.

What created this unity? Alysa Revell has for years worked in behalf of preservation in Farmington. Here she shares some ideas for helping change attitudes:

Some ideas for working with Planning Commissions/City Councils:

    • Educate them. Do not assume that they know anything about preservation. Most public officials and citizens do not, and it is your first job to start at square one and teach them. Give them hard numbers and as many facts as possible. Let them know why lack of preservation/weak ordinances/whatever is a problem in their communities. Use pictures whenever possible. Before-and-afters are very helpful. (Note: for facts about the economic benefits of preservation, see the book Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide)
    • Assure them that you are not inventing the wheel. Provide examples from other cities around the country and state that have tackled similar problems successfully. Politicians are much more comfortable supporting a plan that has already worked somewhere else.
    • Present solutions, not just problems. Anyone can go to a governing body whining about what is wrong. The way to get a successful solution approved is to provide it. Be as detailed as possible. Provide cost estimates. Provide expert testimony (written or in person) to back you up.
    • Try to get members of both your city council and planning commission assigned to your preservation commission. This will help both groups keep in touch with what the other is doing and will usually give you at least one strong supporter at public hearings.
    • Create relationships with City Council and Planning Commission members. Attend any meetings to which you’re invited. Hold tours and socials and invite them. Offer to assist them on non-preservation projects that benefit the city (4th of July events, Holiday events, pioneer day events, special volunteer committees, etc…). Make sure your commission members are omnipresent as willing citizens when the city needs a hand. You’ll build a reputation for your commission as reliable, hardworking, and involved in the community.
    • Don’t get yourself or your commission labeled as crazies. This is important. If you are not viewed as reasonable, you will get nowhere. Be respectful, calm, prepared. Check your emotions at the door of any public hearing.

Utah Preservation Planning Guide


Bicknell gristmill

Does your community want to plan for historic preservation?

Local historic preservation activities are usually more successful when they follow this sequence:

  • Survey
  • Designation
  • Treatment

This approach is both thorough and effective. Unforeseen circumstances may require deviation from this sequence on occasion, but that should occur only rarely.

Public education activities should be a part of each phase. Education make a big difference in the success of a specific project and in creating greater awareness and support for the overall preservation program.

Here are the steps:


  • Do a Reconnaissance-Level Survey.
    This is usually a city-wide, computerized inventory of all the historic buildings in the community.
  • Do Intensive Level Surveys
    This is in-depth historical research on the various owners of an individual building.
  • Do an Archaeological Survey (when applicable—which is not often)

Public education ideas:

  • newspaper articles
  • property owner contacts
  • public involvement
  • presentations to planning commission and city council
  • walking tour booklets
  • tours of historic sites conducted as part of annual community celebrations
  • display of historic photos etc. at city hall or library
  • presentations to school groups 


  • List a building(s) on the community’s Local Historic Sites List
    A Local Historic Sites Lists is created by a local preservation ordinance. Standards for these lists are often lenient and non-restrictive.
  • List a building on the Local Landmark Register
    A Local Landmark Register is also created by a local preservation ordinance. Standards are more exclusive and restrictive.
  • Nominate a building to the National Register of Historic Places
    National Register designations must be coordinated with the SHPO.

Public education ideas:

  • newspaper articles
  • neighborhood meetings for owners of historic properties (to address
  • questions/concerns, etc.)
  • distribution of “fact sheets” to historic property owners so they are aware of the
  • implications of designation
  • presentation of certificates or plaques to property owners by local officials,
  • placement of plaques on buildings
  • walking tours
  • school programs


  • Pre-development: architectural and engineering services
  • Development: rehabilitation of buildings, stabilization of archaeological sites
  • Local Design and Demolition Controls: implemented through a local ordinance
  • Local Preservation Incentives: conditional uses, relaxed building code requirements,
    grants, etc.
  • Tax Incentives for Commercial and Residential Buildings (federal and state tax credit programs)

Public education ideas:

  • annual preservation awards for outstanding rehab projects
  • tours through completed projects
  • ribbon-cuttings involving local and state officials and the press
  • newspaper articles
  • “rehab in progress” signs displayed on site
  • exhibit of architectural drawings at city hall or library
  • “before” and “after” photos fornewspaper or exhibit
  • coordination with planning commission and city council on planning and zoning-related issues