Long Range Planning

Historic Preservation

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Historic Preservation is a special focus within urban design and planning that provides an understanding of and respect for a community's past, especially when decisions are being made about its future. Through programs of research, evaluation, designation of significant places, and education, historic preservation seeks to enhance a community's sense of place and distinct identity, for the benefit of residents and visitors.

Communities are dynamic, constantly responding to new technologies in transportation, production, and communication; climatic, economic, and demographic shifts; lifestyle changes and changes wrought by fires, floods, and storms. Historic preservation programs seek to identify and preserve significant historic places—from individual buildings to whole neighborhoods. Prudent communities make efficient use of past investments, both public and private, and build on their strengths. Healthy communities understand and learn from past mistakes.

Lincoln's historic preservation program is housed in the Planning Department and guided by an appointed, volunteer Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission reviews proposed changes to designated landmarks and works with owners to maintain and preserve significant historic places.

Our community is a "Certified Local Government" for matters of historic preservation, cooperating with the Nebraska State Historical Society and State Historic Preservation Officer (the CEO of the Historical Society), and with the National Park Service of the U. S. Department of the Interior. We assist property owners and neighborhoods desiring historic recognition such as listing on the National Register of Historic Places and designation as City of Lincoln Landmarks and Landmark Districts (under the Zoning Code). We provide information and assistance regarding federal and state tax incentive programs for historic rehabilitation. Ongoing historical research is shared with the community through our web site, print publications, tours, television programs, and frequent community presentations.

Lincoln's Historic Sites & Districts

See the Historic Preservation Development Viewer for a virtual tour of Lincoln's Historic Sites and Districts.

See an alphabetical list of Lincoln's Historic Sites and Districts. This list includes a direct link to the area of the specific site or district in the Historic Preservation Development Viewer.

Historic Designations

There are two basic types of historic district designations:

  • National Register of Historic Places

    The National Register is administered by the National Park Service and is the "honor roll" of historic properties throughout America. Either individual properties or districts can be listed on the National Register, which is more honorary than regulatory. It does not restrict private owners from changing or even demolishing their properties, but it does cause additional reviews, sometimes quite lengthy, of any actions affecting those properties that are federally funded or approved.

  • Lincoln Landmarks designated under the Lincoln zoning code

    Both districts and individual properties can also be designated as Lincoln Landmarks under chapter 27.57 of the Lincoln zoning code. Unlike National Register listing, designation as a Landmark provides a degree of protection for (and restriction upon) individual property owners. When the City Council approves a Landmark, it also approves a set of preservation guidelines for exterior changes to the landmark. Before an owner can change their property, their plans must be reviewed in light of those guidelines, especially if a building permit is required.

There are a couple other historic designations that apply in special cases. The Nebraska State Capitol and Fairview, William Jennings Bryan's home, are National Historic Landmarks. This is an elite list of the most important historic places in America. In Lancaster County outside Lincoln's zoning jurisdiction, the zoning code does not provide a detailed procedure for designating landmarks, but the County Board has the authority to identify historic places by resolution, and has done so in a few cases.