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Project Review

The Historic Preservation Program protects the historic resources that represent the City's unique and diverse heritage. The City of Madison contains buildings, structures, signs, features, improvements, sites, and areas that have significant architectural, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and cultural value. Local historic designation ensures that the City's growth sensitively incorporates the City's historic resources.
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Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA)

Certificate of AppropriatenessThe Landmarks Commission must approve exterior alterations, new construction, and demolitions on desgnated Landmarks and properties in Local Historic Districts.These approvals help protect the historic character of buildings, streetscapes, and neighborhoods as they evolve for ongoing uses. Applicants proposing an exterior project on such a property must secure a Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA) from the Madison Landmarks Commission prior to acquiring a building permit or begining work.

Standards for Review
• Landmarks: Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.
• Local Historic Districts: District Standards.

How to Apply

  1. Use the Standards for Review linked above and our Illustrated Design Guidelines to plan your project.
  2. Prepare your submission materials. Smaller projects can be approved by staff, and require at least pictures of existing conditions, a narrative scope of work, and a list of proposed materials or product specifications. Projects that require Landmarks Commission approval need to meet all submittal requirements on page 2 of the Landmarks Commission Application.
  3. Email submission materials to Note:
    - Individual emails cannot exceed 20 MB. If you divide emails to meet the file size constraints note the email number in the subject: “Landmarks Application -123 Elm Street - email 1 of 4”, “…2 of 4”, etc. 
    - Files must be common formats such as .doc, .pdf, .jpq, .png, etc.
    - Label attachments “Site Plan 1 of 3”, “…2 of 3”, etc.
Cover of the Illustrated Design Guidelines showing two photographs of historic homes


Review Process

Staff will review submissions in the order they are received. Smaller projects can be approved administratively by staff, and if approved applicants will receive an email with the Certificate of Appropriateness. Larger projects must be reviewed by the Landmarks Commission. Please see the commission schedule for submittal and meeting dates.

Application Video Tutorial
For assistance on how to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness, see the video below:

Obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness Video

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness? Go to second 50
How to fill out the Landmarks Commission form? Go to minute 2:24
Administrative Approval process? Go to minute 6:00
What standards are we using for designated landmarks? Go to minute 7:41
What is contained with it the Historic District Standards? Go to minute 10:00

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Designating a Landmark or Local Historic District

For information on how to nominate a property or district, please contact our office.
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National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's list of historically significant cultural resources. It recognizes properties, including archaeological sites, that are significant not only nationally, but also regionally and locally. There are many National Register Historic Districts and numerous individually designated properties in Madison.

National Register designation is honorary and includes financial incentives in the form of two kinds of tax credits; one for the rehabilitation of income-producing property and one for the rehabilitation of single-family residences. Visit the Wisconsin State Historical Society website for more information about these tax credits. The Madison Landmarks Commission is not involved in management of the National Register program, but encourages property owners to explore that program.

Slaughter-Shuttleworth House
The Slaughter-Shuttleworth House


Last Updated: 04/24/2024