Historic Districts

Throughout the City of Columbia, there are 15 Historic District Overlays that have their own unique set of principles and guidelines.  In additional, individual buildings and sites have historic status.  There are over 160 structures with individual landmark status in the City of Columbia.

The design review process for Columbia's design districts is administered by the Design/Development Review Commission (D/DRC) and design review staff.  All projects come directly to staff for consultation first.  Staff may then direct the applicant as to whether the project can be approved at the staff level, or must be directed through the Commission according to City Ordinance.

    Map of Historic District and Design District Overlays

Types of Historic Districts

The most common historic overlays in Columbia come in two forms:  a protection area or an architectural conservation district.  

The stronger of the two historic preservation overlays is the architectural conservation district.  These districts are intended to preserve the form of the neighborhood as well as the general character of its individual structures, including the preservation of historic materials.  Generally, all exterior work, including changes to windows, siding, porch details or other architectural features, is reviewed.  Any materials used on structures in architectural conservation districts are typically required to match the original, and modern materials that approximate historic appearance may be considered for use on new construction. 

Meanwhile, a protection area is a different form of historic preservation overlay.  Unlike the architectural conservation district, a protection area is intended to protect the general form and character of the district as much of its historic materials have been replaced over the years. For this reason, more emphasis is placed on the district as a whole rather than on individual structures. Generally, review of work in these districts largely is limited to additions, new construction, demolition, and certain site improvements such as fences and driveways.  Additionally, modern materials that approximate historic appearance may be considered for review for individual design features. 

If you have any questions about Columbia's historic districts, please contact the staff representative for your district.