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Commission marks 28 years of protecting architectural heritage
April 26, 2013 · Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission

This is the first in a series of articles by the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission. The articles are published periodically and will highlight the commission's preservation efforts, the design review process, and the history of Mount Vernon and its citizens.

For more information, email Ed Sauter at or visit the commission's website at www.

The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission was formed in 1985 by the City Council for the purpose of promoting and protecting the City's architectural heritage.

Historic districts

A primary responsibility of the Commission is to designate Historic Districts. The procedure for designating a historic district includes: historical research on the buildings and neighborhood; public hearings for property owners; Planning and Zoning Commission review, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) review; and City Council approval.

Mount Vernon currently has three National Historic Districts: the Ash Park Residential District, the Commercial District, and the Cornell College District. There are other areas of the city that are of local significance and an additional potential district comprised of the brick structures in the city.

Educational activities

The commission engages in various activities to educate and inform the public on preservation issues.

The commission has conducted seminars on house painting, porch restoration, Mount Vernon history, preservation of historical artifacts, window restoration, masonry tuckpointing and numerous other topics of relevance to citizens.

Walking tours of historic districts are conducted in the summer and a booklet for self-guided tours is available at the Visitors Center. A design guidelines booklet has also been printed to help home owners make informed decisions when working on their homes.

Design review

The commission administers the design review process.

The purpose of design review is to guide property owners in the proper maintenance and enhancement of their structures and neighborhoods through design review guidelines. These guidelines were developed by the commission and are based on the recommendations of the National Park Service, which administers the national historic preservation efforts.

Property owners in historic districts must apply for a Certificate of Compliance or a Certificate of No Material Effect through the building code approval process before making any changes in appearance to the exterior of their property.

Details of the design review process will be the subject of a future column. If you need immediate information regarding design review, contact City Hall or the commission, or visit the commission website at


The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission periodically recognizes commercial and residential preservation efforts with its Community Preservation Awards. Restoration and remodeling projects, as well as additions, are eligible for the awards. The projects need not be in one of the historic districts.


The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission has a diverse website at It includes more than 1,000 photographs from the commission archives, as well as information about Mount Vernon's National Historic Districts and the ordinances that govern the operation of the commission. The centennial history of the commission is also viewable on-line.


The Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission meets the first Saturday of every month at the Mount Vernon Visitors Center. The public is invited to attend. The commission can be contacted through Mount Vernon City Hall at 895-8742 or through one of the commission members. Individuals interested in preservation in our community are encouraged to contact the commission.

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