Historic Districts

National Register Districts

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list maintained by the National Parks Service of districts, sites, individual buildings and structures, and objects of significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. To search if a property in Rhode Island is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, go to www.ri.gov.

Providence currently has 35 National Register Historic Districts, a testament to the rich architectural history of the city. PPS has worked on three National Register nominations: the Summit Avenue Historic District, the Elmgrove Gardens Historic District, and the Wayland Historic District. These three nominations added more than 900 properties to the National Register, allowing property owners to participate in the state tax credit program.

Listing on the National Register is purely an honorary designation.  Properties listed individually or located within a National Register Historic or Landmark District are eligible to participate in tax credit programs for the exterior restoration of historic properties and may be eligible for low-interest loans. Income-producing properties are eligible for the Federal Tax Credit (20%). This program is administered by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (RIHPHC), the State’s Historic Preservation Office. For more information on the National Register and state historic tax credit programs, please visit www.preservation.ri.gov.

Owners of National Register properties may consult with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission’s staff for free advice about protecting the value of their historic resources.  Listing on the National Register is a great honor for a property, but it does not guarantee that the property will never be damaged or demolished.  National Register listing provides protection only when public funds or government licenses are involved.

Local Historic Districts

Many properties within National Register Districts in Providence are also located within Local Historic Districts, though boundaries vary and inclusion in one does not assume inclusion in another. Local historic districts provide protection for historic resources through design review and the issuance of certificates of appropriateness. In 1960, the City of Providence created the Providence Historic District Commission (PHDC) to protect the unique physical character, historic fabric, and visual identity of the city.  Local historic districts are established through overlay zoning, and there are eight local historic districts in Providence, containing approximately 2,500 properties.

PHDC staff and commissioners regulate construction in local historic districts by acting as a design review body with the authority to approve or deny proposed exterior work on any property located within a local historic district.  To search if a property is located within a local historic district, click here.

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