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Historic Resources FAQs

Is my property historic? Properties that are over 50 years of age can be considered “historic”. Historic resources can be a building, structure, district, object, or site.  Properties that are designated by the City or have statewide significance must comply with additional regulations to maintain their character, history, and integrity.

What is historic integrity? Historic integrity is the authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics. Historic integrity enables a property to illustrate significant aspects of its past. It is the composite of seven qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

What is an historic landmark? A property that is individually designated. This is typically due to its architecture or history. There are 25 local landmarks located throughout West Linn.

What is an historic district? A geographically definable area, urban or rural, possessing a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united by past events or aesthetically by plan or physical development.

What is the Willamette Historic District? The Willamette Historic District is located in the Willamette neighborhood and is designated locally and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  More information on the district is available on the Willamette Historic District page.  The local and national districts have slightly different boundaries.

Is my property part of a historic district or designated as a local landmark? The City has 25 local landmarks and over 60 properties that are part of the local and National Register Willamette Historic District. In addition, there are several properties that are part of the local Willamette Historic District, but not the National Register district. Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 if you have questions.

What is the National Register? The National Register of Historic Places is an official list of historic places that are worthy of preservation. More information is available on the National Register of Historic Places website.

What types of financial incentives/tax benefits are available for historic structures? Owners of designated historic properties can apply for the Oregon Special Assessment of Historic Property program. This program allows for a “freeze” of property taxes for a 10-year period prior to a substantial rehabilitation. Most eligible properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The application for this program must be submitted BEFORE the rehabilitation work occurs on the property. Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 or check out State Historic Preservation Office - Tax Assessment for additional information. Income producing properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for a 20% Federal Tax Credit, provided the work follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Alternatively, commercial and industrial buildings that are not designated as historic and that were built before 1936 may be eligible for a 10% Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Interior and exterior work may qualify for the tax credit. This must be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office - Federal Tax Credit (SHPO). Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 for additional information. The City may have some funds available through the Historic Resources Rehabilitation Grant program.

Are any restrictions placed on property owners? Historic designation does not prevent property owners from completing ordinary maintenance and repair tasks. This includes painting previously painted surfaces.  However, window replacement and repairs that use different materials require review.  Contact the Building Department at 503-656-4211 to see if a building permit is required.  Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 if you have questions as to whether a project will require review.  Review is required only for exterior improvements.

Many improvements may require approval by Planning staff or the City's Historic Review Board.  Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 for more information or look at the regulations in Chapter 25, Historic Resources, in the City's Community Development Code.  If your project requires review information on the process is in the Historic Design Review Process brochure.  The Historic Design Review: Supplemental Information brochure provides additional guidance. Contact Planning staff for paper copies.

What standards does the Historic Review Board use to evaluate the applications? Chapter 25, Historic Resources in the City’s Community Development Code establish the criteria and standards that the Historic Review Board uses. The process follows Chapter 99, Procedures for Quasi-Judicial Decision Making.  Contact Planning staff at 503-722-5512 with questions or for more information. How does preservation relate to Goal 5? Goal 5 of Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goals is to protect natural resources and conserve scenic and historic areas and open spaces. West Linn maintains an inventory of properties that are of historic significance in compliance with Goal 5.