Historic Preservation

Historic home in Boise's East Main Street historic district.

With their historic houses and tree-lined streets, Boise’s older neighborhoods represent a critical part of the city’s character and sense of place. Boise has ten designated historic districts that serve as visible reminders of the historical, archaeological, architectural, educational and cultural heritage of Boise City.

To preserve that heritage, the City of Boise has designated Historic Preservation planning staff and a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) that was established in 1979.

To contact HP staff click here.

Living in an Historic District

For most homeowners, living in an historic district has little impact on the use and improvement of their property. State and local law require property owners to have a Certificate of Appropriateness for external alterations.

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Do you live in a historic district?

Enter your address in the interactive map below to determine if you live in one of Boise’s historic districts:

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Looking to do some home improvements?

For homeowners living in a Historic District, a Certificate of Appropriateness is required for external alterations including windows, roofing, façade, tree removal, demolition, new construction and additions. Learn more about the process so you stay in compliance.

Learn more and apply

What is Historic Preservation?

Boise has ten designated historic districts which serve as visible reminders of the historical, archeological, architectural, educational and cultural heritage of Boise City. To help preserve that heritage, the Boise City Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) was established in 1979.

The HPC consists of nine volunteer members who are appointed by the mayor, and represent fields such as landscape architecture, architecture, history, and law. The Historic Preservation Commission is dedicated to promoting Boise’s educational, cultural and economic welfare through the preservation of the city’s historic properties. It is in everyone’s interest that Boise retain its historic properties, from the beautiful Capitol Building, designed by prominent architects Tourtellotte and Hummel, to the neighborhoods of small, humble structures that make up the North End. For Boise, our historic districts provide a sense of place and become gathering spaces for the community, such as Hyde Park, Old Boise and 8th Street.

Contributing and Non-Contributing

When Boise’s historic districts were established, each individual property within the district was reviewed to determine if it contributed to the architectural and historical characteristics of the district or if it was noncontributing. These decisions were made based on the property’s significance and integrity at the time of the survey, rather than the property’s condition or aesthetics. Both contributing and non-contributing structures are regulated to ensure changes are consistent with the goals for the district.

To find out whether a property was determined to be contributing or non-contributing, contact the Planning Division or search Boise's Historic Surveys.

Search Historic Surveys

Historic Preservation Approvals

Most changes to a building exterior or lot within a historic district require a "Certificate of Appropriateness."

  • Staff Level applications are reviewed by staff and do not require a public hearing.
  • Committee Level applications require a public hearing before the Historic Preservation Commission.

The city has created a "Decision Matrix" to determine when a Certificate of Appropriateness is required, and whether a project may be reviewed by the Historic Preservation staff or requires further review by the Historic Preservation Commission.

Decision Matrix (PDF)

Design Guidelines for Residential Historic Districts

The Historic Preservation Commission implemented Design Guidelines for Residential Historic Districts to help the HP staff and homeowners determine the historic appropriateness of changes within residential historic districts.

The Design Guidelines provide comprehensive information for the homeowners, including a list of documents the Historic Preservation Commission uses to make decisions, descriptions of the districts, and guidance for creating sensitive designs for additions, new construction, accessory buildings, accessory dwellings and garages. In addition, the Design Guidelines list both appropriate and inappropriate practices to aid in designing projects.

Residential Design Guidelines

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