Historic Landmarks Commission

Charter Article 141 – WV Code 8-26A-1

Historic Landmarks Commission Members and Terms

Rosella Kern 07.01.16 to 06.30.19
Jeff Whitaker 07.01.16 to 06.30.19
Jeff Whitten 06.30.17 to 07.1.20
Nick Zaglifa 06.30.17 to 07.1.20
David Sanders 07.01.15 to 06.30.18

Meeting Calendar

Agenda & Minutes


Design Review Standards

Charles Town Historic Districts & Historic Overlay District Map

Charles Town Historic Districts:

Façade Improvement Program

Top Ten Myths About Historic Preservation
Charles Town Façade Improvement Program – Investing in the Future
Charles Town’s Façade Improvement Program was designed as an effort to improve and enhance the overall look and experience of downtown Charles Town.  The program is intended to assist property owners within the Charles Town Historic Overlay District (HOD) of Charles Town in beautifying and rehabilitating property faces for the purposes of attracting both customers and prospective business owners and serving as a tool for revitalization of the downtown area. 

Property owners who choose to participate in this program are eligible to receive financial assistance, in the form of a 50/50 funds match, up to $5,000.00, for eligible projects and revitalization efforts in the Historic Overlay District of Charles Town. The program is managed by the City of Charles Town’s Historic Landmarks Commission.
Click the “Façade Improvement Program” link above for more exciting information!

Historic preservation has become a fundamental tool for strengthening American communities. It has proven to be an effective tool for a wide range of public goals including small business incubation, affordable housing, sustainable development, neighborhood stabilization, center city revitalization, job creation, promotion of the arts and culture, small town renewal, heritage tourism, economic development, and others.
The Historic Landmarks Commission is guided by the following principles that are focused on preserving the architectural character, history and beautifying the City of Charles Town.

  • To safeguard the heritage of the City by preserving a historic district, including areas, sites, landmarks, structures and buildings, which reflect elements of Charles Town’s cultural, social, economic, political and/or architectural history
  • To stabilize and improve property values in the historic district
  • To foster civic beauty
  • To strengthen the local economy
  • To promote heritage tourism
  • To promote the use of the historic district for the education, pleasure, and welfare of Charles Town citizens and the State of West Virginia 

What Is the Historical Landmarks Commission?
The Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) is a volunteer public body created via the Charles Town Codified Code.  The Commission reviews proposed new construction, demolitions, and exterior alterations to structures within the Historic Overlay Districts.  If the proposed work is in keeping with the historic character of the building and the Design Review Standards, the HLC may approve a Certificate of Appropriateness, which is required before work begins.
When Is Certificate of Appropriateness Necessary?
Any exterior changes visible from a public street in the historic districts must be reviewed.  Exterior paint colors and interior changes are not reviewed.  Changes included:

  • A Change in Design - for example: adding a dormer, enclosing a porch, replacing the existing door, etc.
  • A Change in Material - for example: installing vinyl or aluminum siding, replacing wooden railings with wrought iron, replacing wood windows with vinyl, etc.
  • A Change in Texture - for example: replacing scalloped siding shingles with square siding shingles, replacing decorative porch columns with straight porch columns, etc.
  • A Change in Arrangement - for example: blocking up a window, adding a new door opening, etc. 

Major changes such as demolition, removal of porches, construction of additions, or other fundamental alterations all require review.
It should be noted that the Commission never requires an owner to initiate work.  An owner may choose to leave a property "as is" unless another City agency mandates improvements for public health and safety.

When is Design Review Standards Review NOT Necessary?
General repair and maintenance, and replacement of deteriorated features with like materials of the identical appearance does not require Commission review.
Is It Hard To Get Design Review Standards Approval?
The Commission wants to make sure that any alterations do not permanently alter the historical architectural character of the property.  When reviewing a case, the Commission takes into account the goals the property owner is trying to accomplish and the unique circumstances of each case.  The Commission may be able to suggest more cost efficient and historically appropriate treatments.
Design Review Standards for the Historic Overlay District is available from the Department of Community Development.  The Design Review Standard provide property owners guidance as to specific rehabilitation practices.  An applicant still must appear before the Commission if changes are being proposed, but compliance with Design Review Standards greatly increases the likelihood of approval.  Applicants should also consult the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties for further information on appropriate rehabilitation practices.

What Is The Procedure For Applying to Design Review Standards?
When considering making exterior changes, the applicant must fill out an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness and appear before the Commission at its next monthly meeting (normally the second Monday of the month).  Please review the calendar for application submission dates.
Please note that the normal City permit processes (zoning, signage building, plumbing, electrical, etc.) apply to the historic districts in exactly the same way as in other sections of the City.  Historic Landmarks Commission approval is based on historic and architectural criteria only and does not relieve the applicant of the responsibility to secure other permits from other City agencies when relevant.

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