Historic Preservation

The Historic Preservation section of the Planning Services Division is charged with planning for the preservation of Abilene's unique architectural and historical resources. The Planning Services Division administers the historic preservation ordinances, assists the Abilene Landmarks Commission in their duties and responsibilities, and processes applications for Historic Overlay zoning, Certificates of Appropriateness, and Historic Project Tax Reductions for consideration by the Landmarks Commission and City Council.

Historic Buildings in Abilene

The City of Abilene boasts many historic buildings from the late Victorian hardscrabble beginnings of the town, to Gothic Revival high-rises, and mid-century modern commercial buildings.

Check out the Historic Buildings Database.

If you have any additional information or comments about the survey or any buildings that you feel are a historic or cultural resource to Abilene, please feel free to contact the Planning Services Division, all comments are welcome.

Abilene Register of Historic Places

In addition to its other duties and responsibilities, the Landmarks Commission maintains the Abilene Register of Historic Properties (PDF). This register lists historic buildings and properties that have been previously surveyed and identifies whether those buildings and properties are located in the Historic Overlay zoning district, on the Council Adopted List of Historic Properties, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and/or a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. More information about these historic buildings and properties is provided in the Historic Resource Survey for the City of Abilene.

For more information on the evaluation of historic resources, please visit the National Park Service website.

Abilene Historic Preservation Trivia

  • The City of Abilene started its historic preservation program over 30 years ago in 1985.
  • The City provides over $50,000 every year in property tax reductions to assist owners in the maintenance and rehabilitation of their historic properties.
  • There are 136 historic properties in the Historic overlay zoning district.
  • There are three buildings built before 1890 that are listed in the Abilene Register of Historic Places:
    1. Watson-Hopkin House (1882) at:
      342 Poplar Street
      Abilene, TX 79602
    2. Fulwiler-Smith House (1884) at:
      318 Elm Street
      Abilene, TX 79602
    3. Sayles-Dillard House (1889) at:
      642 Sayles Boulevard
      Abilene, TX 79605

Understanding Historic Overlay Zoning

Requirements

Any project affecting the exterior (only) of a property will initiate the Certificate of Appropriateness review process established by the Historic Overlay zoning district. This review process by the Landmarks Commission could delay work from a period of days or weeks up to about six weeks, so be sure to contact Planning Staff to ensure that your project is not delayed unnecessarily. 

Review

The Landmarks Commission reviews any project requiring a building or sign permit through an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Ordinary repair or maintenance including in-kind replacement of materials does not require a Certificate of Appropriateness but may need to be reviewed by Planning & Development Services staff.

The Landmarks Commission reviews the following miscellaneous exterior alterations that do not otherwise require a building permit. Listed below are examples of alterations reviewed by the Commission:

  • Change of exterior color
  • Change in elements which affects the appearance and historic cohesiveness of the property, such as:
    • Exterior Doors
    • Fences
    • Light Fixtures
    • Parkways
    • Paving
    • Sidewalks
    • Signs
    • Steps
  • Installation of siding (a change of siding is not recommended)
  • Window treatment or changes including awnings

The Landmarks Commission will review any project requiring a demolition permit. If the Commission denies a permit, the demolition could be delayed for one year from the time of the request before you may file a new application.

Decision

The decision of the Landmarks Commission may be appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission within 15 days of decision of the Landmarks Commission. If the appeal is not filed within 15 days, the decision of the Landmarks Commission is final. An applicant can reapply to the Landmarks Commission after a period of 12 months.

Benefits

The property owner receives an automatic annual reduction of the city property taxes for being in the Historic Overlay zoning district. The annual reduction in the city property taxes will be $200 or 20% of the city property taxes, whichever is greater. 

The property owner may qualify for additional reductions of the city property taxes for projects that maintain, rehabilitate, or improve the historic property. To recover some or all of the costs of the project, the city property taxes may be reduced by up to 50% for a period of up to 10 years.

A plaque can be placed on the exterior front elevation to identify the property’s historic significance.

More Information

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the requirements and benefits of the Historic Overlay zoning district, please feel free to contact the Planning Services Division.