Historic Resources Commission (HRC)

Meeting Details:

Regular meetings of the HRC are held monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 6PM in the Council Chambers of City Hall at 201 South Main Street unless otherwise cancelled. 


Interested in volunteering to serve on the Historic Resources Commission? There are a few important things to consider. All members must live in the City of Graham. Meetings may last up to 4 hours and it is anticipated that members will spend additional time prior to each meeting reviewing proposed projects. Applicants should have a demonstrated special interest, experience, or education in history, architecture, archaeology, or related fields. 

We encourage potential volunteers to attend a meeting and talk with the staff liaison or Chairperson to answer any questions you may have prior to completing an application. 

Note: Your address may not always reflect whether you are a City of Graham resident. If you are unsure about your residences status you may wish to reference the City of Graham map or contact the City Clerk 336-570-6700 to inquire.

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Local designation should not be confused with listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which is a federal program administered by the State. Some properties may carry both types of designation, but the National Register and local designation are totally separate and independent programs with different requirements and benefits.

The National Register is our country’s official list of historic properties and resources worthy of preservation. It includes individual buildings, structures, sites, and objects as well as historic districts that are considered to be significant in American history, architecture, engineering, archaeology, and culture. National Register listing recognizes the significance of properties and districts. By doing so, it identifies significant historic resources in a community. Boundaries of National Register districts are tightly drawn to encompass only concentrated areas of historic buildings. Information compiled to nominate a historic district can be used in a variety of planning and development activities. National Register listing also makes available specific preservation incentives and provides a limited degree of protection via review of the effects of federally funded, licensed, or permitted activities. It is important to note that National Register listing does not prevent the demolition of historic buildings and structures within designated areas.

A local historic district is a district designated by a local ordinance that falls under the jurisdiction of a local historic preservation commission. A local historic district is generally part of an overlay district on the existing zoning classifications in a community. Therefore, it deals only with the appearance of the district, not with the uses of those properties. A local historic district is a geographically definable area, urban or rural, which contains structures, sites, and/or works of art which have special historical or aesthetic interest or value; represent one or more periods or styles of architecture typical of one or more eras in the history of the municipality, county, state, or region; and cause that area to constitute a visibly perceptible section of the community. The designation of a local district protects the significant properties and the historic character of the district. It provides a community with the means to make sure that growth, development, and change take place in ways that respect the important architectural, historical, and environmental characteristics within a district. Local designation encourages sensitive development in the district and discourages any unsympathetic changes from occurring. This happens through a process called design review. The historic preservation commission reviews major changes that are planned for the district and issues Certificates of Appropriateness which allow the proposed changes to take place. It is important to note that locally designated historic properties may be subject to restrictions which delay the demolition of historic buildings and structures within designated areas for up to one year.


The Historic Resources Design Guideline has a table of major vs. minor works. Alternatively, we encourage applicants to contact the Planning Department at 336-570-6705 to provide details about the proposed project and based on the scope of work, the HRC Staff Liaison will then help determine whether the project may be approved administratively by staff or whether the case must be referred to the Historic Resources Commission for further review.  



It depends. If the project only requires a minor COA staff can approve the work administratively. Typical approval within 1-3 business days. 

On the other hand, if the project requires a major COA then the property owner must submit a COA application prior to the submission deadline (listed above in the HRC Calendar) along with all supporting documentation about the project. The case will then be heard by the HRC on their next regularly scheduled meeting. If sufficient evidence is provided to make a ruling the HRC will issue a decision. Typical decisions rendered within a month of the date of the application submission.

However, the HRC has the authority to table a COA if the applicant fails to provide sufficient detail or they need to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (NC SHPO) before making a determination. This can take up to two months for a decision.   

The Standards are ten principles developed by the Secretary of the Interior to guide work on historic properties. The Graham Historic Resources Design Guidelines are based off of these principles and are used to judge the appropriateness of the proposed work to historic properties. These principles include the following:

  • A property shall be rehabilitated for its historic purpose or a compatible use that requires minimal change to its distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships.

  • The historic character of a property will be retained and preserved. The removal of distinctive materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships will be avoided.
  • Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features, shall not be undertaken.

  • Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right will be retained and preserved.

  • Distinctive materials, features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property will be preserved.

  • Deteriorated historic features will be repaired rather than replaced. If replacement is necessary, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture, and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence.

  • Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.

  • Archaeological resources will be protected and preserved in place. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures will be undertaken.

  • Additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships. New work will be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.

  • Additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in  such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

It depends. Income tax incentives for the rehabilitation of historic structures are important tools for historic preservation and economic development in North Carolina. A federal income tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures first appeared in 1976 and today consists of a 20% credit for the qualifying rehabilitation of income-producing historic properties. The Restoration Services Branch review and provides technical assistance to all preservation tax credit projects, both state and federal.

For non-income producing properties, homeowners may receive a 15% state tax credit for qualified rehabilitation of owner-occupied residential properties. For details about the program please refer to the fact sheet below. 

Non-income Producing Tax Credit Fact Sheet