Historic Preservation Design Standards

Project Background

Since the historic preservation program began in 1980, locally designated historic properties and districts have been adopted with a unique set of design guidelines to aid in the preservation of the site and district. These guidelines, mainly addressing exterior changes, are specific to each separate site or district, of which Lincoln has 104 individual local landmarks and 13 local landmark districts. Beginning in summer 2023, the project began to consolidate all 114 sets of design guidelines into one, illustrated, easy to use set of design standards for all local historic properties. The Design Standards provide information and recommendations for the maintenance, preservation, and rehabilitation of historic buildings. They are intended to be a tool for both owners when starting projects and the Historic Preservation Commission to use when reviewing projects for approval.

Virtual Open House

A public open house is set for May 8th from 5 to 7 pm at the Auld Pavilion (1650 Memorial Drive). For those unable to attend, the posters that will be set up at the open house are available below.

Design Standards Posters(PDF, 59MB)

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do the current guidelines need revision?

Adoption of separate design guidelines for each property or district has resulted in 117 sets of design guidelines with varying formats and ages. This is challenging for owners to understand and staff to administer. Some guidelines are over 40 years old and have outdated guidance. The update consolidates all standards into one easy to understand, illustrated document to streamline reviews and provide a better resource for owners completing exterior projects on historic properties. The updated standards clearly identify what types of projects can be administratively approved versus those projects that need review and approval at a public meeting, thus saving time and money for owners of historic properties.

Are the new design standards different than the design guidelines in effect today?

While there are changes to modernize the guidelines and provide more detailed guidance, the update is not a drastic overhaul in language and prescribed treatments. For example, today the guidelines heavily emphasize the need to retain historic wood windows rather than replace them and recommend against vinyl siding unless a reasonable case is made. These types of guidelines are considered industry standards and remain in the new standards. The new standards also provide clarity on what a reasonable case would be to approve deviations from the adopted standards.

What if my home doesn't comply with the new regulations? 

The Design Standards are not retroactive. Changes that were made prior to the adoption of these design standards that do not comply are considered grandfathered and may remain. However, if replacement or modifications are needed after adoption of the design standards, the change should bring the property into compliance with these standards.

When will the new design standard go into effect?

Following the May 8th public open house, the draft standards will be revised based on feedback received. The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will review and make a recommendation to the Planning Commission at their May meeting. Following Planning Commission, the City Council will review the proposed changes and vote on the new document. It is anticipated the new standards will go into effect Summer 2024.

How can I get involved?

The full draft document is planned to be presented at the Historic Preservation Commission for review and public comment on April 18th and a public open house is set for May 8th from 5 to 7 pm at the Auld Pavilion (1650 Memorial Drive). All materials for the open house will be available under the Virtual Open House section.

In addition, we welcome any open ended comments via email or by phone (402-441-6373) and will promptly follow up to any questions or concerns. We welcome the opportunity to present and answer questions at any neighborhood or community events as well and are in discussion with many of the neighborhood organizations who currently have local landmark districts within their boundaries. 

If you would like to be added to the email list for any updates on the design standards project, upcoming workshops and trainings, and other preservation related events please send an email to preservation@lincoln.ne.gov.

How do I find out if I own a local landmark property or have a property in a local landmark district?

The information below explains Lincoln's historic preservation program outlining the differences between a local designation and a National Register designation. The Historic Preservation Design Standards only apply to properties listed as individual local landmarks or that are within local landmark districts. By typing an address into the search bar on the map below you can determine whether the property is historic and if so, what type of designation it has. Local landmark districts have solid orange boundaries, National Register districts are red/pink, and districts with both designations are green. For individual properties, clicking on the orange dot will result in a pop up that says what type of designation is on the property.


Draft Design Standards

Use the interactive image below to select a feature within the design standards such as "windows" or click on the text below to review that section of the design standards. Each section begins with a purpose statement, followed by the applicable standards. Where applicable, images showing proper and improper treatments and diagrams are included to illustrate the standards. There is also a PDF of the full document for review below.