Guidelines & FAQ

An eligible building must present itself as a good example of both the preservation of significant architectural features and appropriate property maintenance. The committee reviewing applications will look to see that original materials of the building are intact, including windows, wall surface, and trim, to name a few. Exterior work, such as construction and painting, must be completed prior to application. The committee meets quarterly to review applications on a rolling basis and considers each application on a case-by-case basis.

General Criteria

Exterior Wall Treatment – The material in place must be of the same type and installation as appropriate to the period of the structure. Under no circumstances will any structure with vinyl, aluminum, or similar replacement siding be considered.

Exterior Details – All exterior details, like shutters and trim, should be retained or replaced with appropriate forms and materials.

Roofs – Rooflines should be respected and, where it is prohibitively expensive to restore roofs with original materials like slate, modern materials should be used that show sensitivity to the color and texture of the original.

Windows – Preservation of historic windows is strongly encouraged, though high-quality replacement windows will be considered. Replacements should closely match the style, material, profile, function, and appearance of the original.

Maintenance – All exterior work, including landscaping, must be complete before a house can be considered for a marker.

For Specific Criteria and Guidelines, Click Here


Marker Application Review Process

Applications are reviewed by the Marker Committee, which is composed of local architects, architectural historians, preservationists, and the Director of Preservation. Committee meetings take place quarterly, typically in March, June, September, and December. The committee makes site visits to applicant properties to inspect authenticity, historic features, and maintenance.

If a property is approved for a marker and upon receipt of the fee, a preservation consultant will conduct research on the building’s history. Once the research is complete, a hand-painted marker is produced that reflects the results of the research.  The property owner/applicant receives both the marker and a copy of the building history.

A copy of each building history is maintained as part of the Mary A. Gowdey Library of House Histories on the PPS website.  Copies are also available to the general public and researchers at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library and the Providence City Archive.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to have a historic marker?

  • A marker is an honorary recognition of a building that contributes in a positive way to the appreciation and understanding of Providence’s unique architectural heritage. Buildings with markers are examples of both preservation of significant architectural features and appropriate property maintenance.

Can I make changes to my building if it has a marker?

  • There are no regulations or limitations imposed on properties after markers have been awarded. However, PPS does encourage property owners to continue to keep their buildings in good repair and to consult staff should they choose to make alterations. If a property is located within a local historic district, you must apply to the Providence Historic District Commission (PHDC) for a permit, whether or not your building has a marker.

How can I get a marker?

  • Once you have reviewed the marker program overview and determined that your building is eligible, you can fill out the simple online application. Eligible buildings retain integrity of the original design, are appropriately and well maintained, and are at least 50 years old. You must be a member of PPS to receive a marker; a reduced household membership is included in the fee for non-members.

The wording on my marker is fading. Can I get a new one?

  • Of course!  You can apply for a replacement marker for your property through the same application form used for new markers. Replacement marker applications must meet the same standards as new markers, therefore, the building will be re-evaluated to ensure eligibility. If the existing marker was presented within the last 15 years and the building history is current, you may qualify for the replacement marker fee of $150.00.

How do you determine what the marker says?

  • Deed research conducted by our preservation consultant plays the most important role in determining the date and name on the marker, but other sources, such as tax records, wills, and city directories may also influence the determination.

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