Historic Districts

Throughout the City of Columbia, there are 15 Historic District Overlays that have their own unique set of principles and guidelines.  In addition, the City also has five Community Character districts, as well as other individual buildings and sites which have designated historic statuses.  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.


List of Historic Districts

Cottontown/Bellevue Architectural Conservation District

Earlewood Protection Area

Elmwood Park Architectural Conservation District

Granby Architectural Conservation District

Governor's Mansion Protection Area

Landmark District

Melrose Heights/Oak Lawn Architectural Conservation District

Old Shandon/Lower Waverly Protection Area

Oakwood Court Architectural Conservation District

Seminary Ridge Architectural Conservation District

University Hills Architectural Conservation

Waverly Protection Area

Wales Garden Architectural Conservation District

West Gervais Historic Commercial District

Whaley Street Protection Area


Community Character Districts

Community character overlays are intended to minimize the possibility that demolition and construction activity within a residential community would drastically negatively affect the existing character of that community. Neighborhoods which have elected to have this overlay have a review for demolition and new construction on newly subdivided lots.  Community Character districts are subject to the regulations set forth in Sec. 17-324 of the City of Columbia's Code of Ordinances.


List of Community Character Districts

  • Heathwood Community Character District
  • Hollywood-Rose Hill Community Character District
  • Shandon Community Character District
  • Sherwood Forest Community Character District
  • Whaley Street Community Character District


For further assistance or additional information, please contact the Planning Division at (803) 545-3222.