Historic Districts in Chapel Hill

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Contact us!

Anya Grahn
Historic District Commission Liaison

Email: agrahn@townofchapelhill.org

Phone: 919-969-5059

Becky McDonnell
Historic District Commission Liaison 

Email: bmcdonnell@townofchapelhill.org

Phone: 919-969-5054

Jake Lowman
Historic District Commission Liaison

Email: jlowman@townofchapelhill.org

Phone: 919-969-5082

What is a Local Historic District?  

Local Historic Districts are zoning overlay districts created to protect and conserve the heritage and character of Chapel Hill.

View Active Certificate of Appropriateness Applications

Click the link above to view applications that will be reviewed by the Historic District Commission at an upcoming meeting. 

Where are the Local Historic Districts in Chapel Hill? 

The Town of Chapel Hill has three local historic districts which include:

  • Franklin-Rosemary Historic District (created by the Town Council in 1976)
  • Cameron-McCauley Historic District (created by the Town Council in 1990)
  • Gimghoul Historic District (created by the Town Council in 1990)

Owners of property within Local Historic Districts are required to receive a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior changes to the property.

The following map illustrates the locations of the Local Historic Districts:

Local Historic District Map


Does Chapel Hill have National Register Historic Districts?

The Town of Chapel Hill has four National Register Historic Districts which include:

  • Chapel Hill Historic District
  • West Chapel Hill Historic District
  • Gimghoul Historic District
  • Rocky Ridge Historic District.

The owner of a property in the National Register Historic District is not required to apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness for changes unless the property is also located within a local historic district.

The following map illustrates the locations of the National Register Historic Districts:

National Register Historic Districts

Note: There is currently a National Register Nomination for the West Chapel Hill Historic District to increase the boundary, as shown on the map below. The boundary increase will be considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places at the February 14, 2019 meeting of the North Carolina National Register Advisory Committee. Updated 1/7/2019.

What should property owners know about owning property in a local historic district?

For a brochure with regulatory information about owning property in one of Chapel Hill's local historic districts, click here.


What is the Historic District Commission?

The Historic District Commission has the responsibility of guiding physical change within the historic districts of Chapel Hill in such a way as to promote, enhance, and preserve the character of the districts. For additional information about the Historic District Commission, click here.   


What kind of changes require Historic District Commission approval?

Any exterior portion of any building or other structure (including masonry walls, fences, fixtures, steps, and pavement, or other appurtenant features), or any above ground utility structure, or any type of outdoor advertising require a Certificate of Appropriateness before it can be erected, altered, restored, moved, or demolished, if located in the Local Historic District.

Ordinary maintenance or repair of any exterior architectural feature that does not involve a change in design, material or outer appearance typically does not require a certificate of appropriateness. To learn more, please see Section 3.6.2 of the Land Use Management Ordinance.


What are the Design Guidelines for the Chapel Hill Historic Districts?

The Design Guidelines for the Chapel Hill Historic Districts were adopted by the Town Council in June 2002. The Guidelines set the standards for property owners and for the Historic District Commission on what is congruous with the character of the historic districts.

The new guidelines include a brief description and history of Chapel Hill, and a description of the Historic District Commission. Each topic covered includes points to consider prior to designing and has specific guidelines. For example, exterior lighting suggests the use of directional fixtures and downlighting to prevent excessive nighttime lighting.


Documents and Maps

Residential Applications and Certificate of Appropriateness Application and Requirements

Commercial Applications and Certificate of Appropriateness Application and Requirements

Design Guidelines (pdf)

Historic District Commission Rules of Procedure

Local Historic Districts Map

National Register Districts Map

Map of All Historic Districts - Local and National Register Districts

North Carolina Sanborn Maps

LUMO Excerpt - Historic Districts

Owning a Home in Chapel Hill Historic Districts

Significance Reports



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