Owning Historic Property

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What does it mean if my property is historic?

If you own historic property in the City of Bloomington, you have a unique opportunity of contributing to the preservation of the city’s historical character. Owning such a property poses an honor and also responsibility. Owners of historic properties may be eligible for unique benefits such as historic preservation grants or façade grants but may also be subject to architectural review guidelines to ensure that work is done to match the appropriate architectural period of the property.

1215 E Wash - Scattered Sites

Local Benefits

The Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission administers two grant programs to assist property owners with maintaining the historical integrity of their properties. These grant programs are the Eugene D. Funk Grant for exterior features on locally designated buildings and the Harriet Fuller Rust Grant for façade improvements in the historic downtown. More information on eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on our Grants and Awards page.

The Bloomington Old House Society is a local organization where members and non-members alike can share resources and attend workshops or informational events about historic preservation in Bloomington. The Old House Society has an architectural salvage warehouse on 214 Douglas Street, which offers hard-to-find and unique restoration items. The Old House Society also offers grants for rehabilitation and restoration projects.

State Benefits

Historic property owners may also be eligible for programs through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources such as:

Property Tax Assessment Freeze Program for Historic Residences

Historic Preservation Tax Credits

National Register of Historic Places

Find a comprehensive list of IDNR offerings here.

Responsibilities and Resources

Typically, properties owners who seek financial assistance for rehabilitation projects on historic properties will be subject to review of standards by the organization assisting them. Additionally, designated historic properties may be subject to permits and review by the Historic Preservation Commission or by IDNR. For clarification on what might be required for your project, call the Community Development Department at 309-434-2226.

The City of Bloomington created Architectural Review Guidelines (PDF) to guide owners with construction, remodeling, and maintenance of existing historic buildings. Prior to issuing a building permit, the Historic Preservation Commission reviews the proposed exterior work within the local historic districts or on historic landmarks using these guidelines. The commission will issue a certificate of appropriateness once it determines the project complies with the guidelines. The guidelines are expected to be used in the most general sense, considering that every project is unique.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation to vet projects to which they provide assistance.

The National Park Service’s Preservation Briefs provide guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, and restoring historic buildings. These NPS Publications help historic building owners recognize and resolve common problems prior to work. Click here to see the Briefs. 

12 White Pl - White Place District

The Confusing Labels of Historic Property

Local Historic Property

Bloomington Historic Zoning: Property is individually designated with restrictive zoning. This is called the 'S-4 Zoning' overlay and requires Historic Preservation review when exterior changes are proposed to the structure. 

Historic District

An area within definable geographic boundaries, properties, or buildings which contribute to the overall historic character of the designated area.

National Register of Historic Places

Property is listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places; or Property is a structure contributing to the historic significance of a historic district.

National Landmark

Nationally significant historic places are designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.

Note: A structure can be labeled as more than one of the above. For example, a property can be on the National Register and also have local historic zoning. On the other hand, it can be on the National Register and not have local historic zoning.

What is the S-4 Zoning Overlay?

Bloomington established the S-4 Zoning overlay to protect and preserve historically and culturally significant resources. The S-4 Zoning category requires architectural review of exterior changes to the structure by the Historic Preservation Commission.

Bloomington structures with S-4 zoning are eligible for grants which help to offset the cost of maintaining or restoring the historic appearance of the structure. Up to 50% of the project cost to a limit of $5,000 can be reimbursed. Click here to see the City Code for S-4 Zoning

What if I believe my property should be recognized as historic?

If you believe a property you own possesses historic value and significance and would like to see it preserved and protected under a local historic distinction, you may submit the proper form and fee to the Community Development Department. The decision is ultimately made by City Council. 

If you believe your property should be listed on the National Register of Historic Places visit National Park Service to determine eligibility. If you own or know of a property that poses exceptional historic significance and should be nominated as a National Landmark visit the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmarks Program.

606 E Grove - E Grove District