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Historic Preservation FAQs

What is Historic Preservation?

Historic Preservation is the endeavor to preserve, conserve and protect buildings and sites that possess architectural or historical significance in Downers Grove.

What is a landmark and what are the benefits of landmark designation?

A landmark is a site or building that has been identified as an architectural, historical or cultural resource with significance to Downers Grove. The benefits of owning a landmark are recognition and protection of the landmark as a significant Downers Grove architectural, historical or cultural resource. Other benefits include participation in the nationwide effort to preserve the character of local communities, and possible tax benefits through the State of Illinois.

What is a historic district and what are the benefits of historic district designation?

A historic district is a group of historic buildings that are deemed significant as a collection of buildings. The buildings are a collection of buildings that speak to the historic, architectural or cultural development of Downers Grove.  These qualities help make Downers Grove a unique and desirable place which is a benefit to both the property owners within a historic district and to the community.

What is the difference between a contiguous historic district and a thematic historic district and what are the benefits of being in a historic district?

A contiguous historic district is a collection of historic buildings within a specific geographic area which contribute to the overall historic character of the area. A thematic historic district is a collection of historic buildings in separated geographic areas which share a common architectural characteristics or style. The benefits of a historic district include the ability to preserve a collection of older homes and improve property values in neighborhoods where many older homes still have some of their original architectural characteristics.  

I am interested in landmarking my house or creating a historic district.  Where can I find an application?

The applications are available below:

You may also contact the Community Development Department at 630-434-5515 to pick up or discuss an application. We recommend you speak with a Planner to discuss your property and the historic preservation process.  

Are there people or organizations that can help me complete the application? Or help me complete research on my property?

The Village is beginning to identify private not-for-profit organizations who are willing to offer their assistance in completing applications.  Please contact the Community Development Department at 630-434-5515 to obtain contact information.

Is owner consent required for landmark designation? A contiguous historic district?  A thematic historic district?

Landmark - Yes, owner consent is required to become a local landmark.

Contiguous Historic District - Yes, owner consent is required of at least 51% of the property owners within the proposed contiguous historic district.

Thematic Historic District - Yes, owner consent is required of 100% of the property owners within the proposed thematic historic district.  

What is the role of Village staff? What is the role of the Architectural Design Review Board (ADRB)?

The Village's Community Development Department planning staff administers the Historic Preservation Ordinance and is always available to help residents preserve their home or business.

The Architectural Design Review Board is composed of seven residents, appointed by the mayor, with various backgrounds. The ADRB is responsible for Historic Preservation in the community.  The ADRB's work includes recommending the designation of landmarks and historic districts; reviewing proposed alterations to landmarks and structures within historic districts; and educating the public about historic preservation. The ADRB meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month and its meetings are open to the public.

If I sell my home after it is designated a landmark, can the next homeowner rescind the designation?

It is possible to rescind the designation, although the Village and ADRB would encourage and assist the owner in finding alternative options and solutions.

If my home is designated a landmark or is within a historic district, what additional regulations apply?  

Additional historic regulations may apply if you are proposing exterior renovations to your property that affect the property's front façade.  Exterior renovations may be reviewed by the Community Development Department or the Architectural Design Review Board depending on the scope of the project.  The following list of projects requires a historic review by the Village:

  • Window and door replacement on the front facade
  • Demolition
  • Additions that are visible from the street
  • Attached garages
  • Roof changes that result in a change in height or pitch

The following list of projects do not require a historic review:

  • Driveways
  • Fences
  • Painting
  • Landscaping
  • Routine maintenance and cleaning
  • Interior renovations
  • Any work on a side or rear façade

A complete list of exterior projects that may or may not require historic review are shown in Sections 501 and 502 of the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

When does the Architectural Design Review Board meet?

The ADRB typically meets on the third Wednesday of the month at 7:00pm at Village Hall, 801 Burlington Avenue.  The meetings are held in the Committee Room.   Check the Village website for the agenda.

If I have more questions, who should I contact?

You may contact Rebecca Leitschuh, AICP, Senior Planner at 630-434-5520 or send an email to historicpreservation@downers.us.