Did you know?

Capitol Hill is the birthplace of Denver's preservation movement. Following the 1970s demolition of the Moffett Mansion Historic Denver, Inc. was created in time to save another of our city's precious historic homes, the Molly Brown House Museum.

Landmark Designations

As a private, non-profit organization Historic Denver does not have the authority to designate properties and does not manage the city's designation program.  However, we are a resource for those who are interested in designation, or those who own designated properties.  We often get questions about Landmark Designation, how to navigate the designation process, what happens when you buy a designated property, and what steps you have to take when you want to build an addition or do a remodel. You can download a pdf of our Frequently Asked Questions about Historic Designation, or view it HERE

There are three types of historic designation, all of which can be applied to either individual historic buildings or whole districts of historic buildings. The designation types have differing degrees of regulations and criteria, though a property can potentially be designated by all three types.

The three types of designation are similar in their criteria for a building or structure to be considered significant (e.g., architecture, history, geography) and all require that the property have a high level of integrity, i.e., have not been altered beyond recognition.

Buildings in districts are usually distinguished between “contributing” – meaning they contribute to the historic character of the district and are historic themselves; or “non-contributing” – meaning they are either not historic or have been so altered that they do not add to the district’s character.

If you are interested in protecting resources in your neighborhood visit our Neighborhood Resources page.

Denver Landmark Preservation Commission

The Denver Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) is a local regulatory body that has the power to designate and regulate historic buildings in the City and County of Denver. The Commission is made up of nine volunteers appointed by the Mayor, who represent a wide spectrum of interests in historic preservation: architects, historians, real estate agents, developers and community members. The Commission is assisted by staff from the City’s Community Planning and Development office.

Unlike the National and State Registers, properties may be 30 years or older to be considered eligible for designation by the LPC. After the LPC approves a designation, it must be ratified by City Council before becoming official.

The LPC reviews any exterior changes to a landmarked building, or building in a historic district, that require a building permit. Other alterations, such as painting, are not regulated. The Landmark Commission uses adopted design guidelines to guide their decisions.  A building permit is issued once the LPC approves the proposed work. Minor alterations usually are reviewed at the staff level, while major alterations such as an addition, are reviewed by the Commission members. A locally landmarked building or a building within a local historic district cannot be demolished without LPC approval, which is granted only in unusual or extreme circumstances.

For more information on the LPC, such as how to designate a property, apply for a design review of a proposed project involving a designated property visit the City’s Landmark webpage here.

Demolition Review

The City of Denver has a demolition review process that provides a window of opportunity for the community to consider the loss of a building that has potential for designation as a local landmark under the Denver Landmark Ordinance. Read more about Demolition Review, including the Certificate of Non-Historic Status process, here.

National Register of Historic Places

The National Register is a federal program nationally administered by the National Park Service in conjunction with the appointed State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for each State. The Colorado Historical Society’s Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation is Colorado’s SHPO. Except for properties of exceptional significance, a historic structure must be at least 50 years old to be considered eligible for listing. National Register properties are not regulated, and therefore this designation type does not offer a historic building any protection from demolition or alteration, though such action could mean that the designation would be removed. If governmental action or funding threatens a property on the National Register, federally mandated review processes must be undertaken to help alleviate any harmful effects whenever possible.

An important feature of the National Register program is that rehabilitation projects on listed properties are eligible for tax credits at the State and/or Federal level – click on the Tax Credits link to the left for further information. To learn more about the National Register program, visit the National Park Service’s website here.

To learn how to nominate a property to be listed in the National Register, visit the Colorado Historical Society’s website here.

Colorado State Register of Historic Properties

Properties in Colorado that have been listed in the National Register are automatically listed in the State Register of Historic Properties. Properties may also be listed separately to the State Register without inclusion to the National Register. The State Register program is administered by the Colorado Historical Society’s Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Like the National Register, properties must be at least 50 years old to be eligible for listing.

As with the National Register, properties designated at the state level are not protected from demolition or alteration. Projects involving state or federal actions or funding must undergo formal processes to review all harmful effects on a State Register property and identify ways to mitigate those effects. Rehabilitation projects on properties listed in the State Register may be eligible for the State Income Tax Credit.

To learn more about the Colorado State Register, visit the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation’s webpage on the subject here.