What is a City Historic District?

A City Historic District is an area that has been recognized for its outstanding historical, architectural or archaeological significance. Since 1975, twelve City Historic Districts have been designated as overlay zoning districts to recognize and protect the city’s cultural resources. Within City Historic Districts all exterior changes to buildings or sites, including renovations, alterations, new construction, demolition and changes to the topography, are monitored through a design review process that starts with the planning staff and may also be required to go to the full Design Review & Preservation Commission.

How are City historic districts designated?

From time to time, City Council may designate certain areas in the city as City Historic Districts and may define and amend their boundaries based on historic research performed by the Planning Department. Property owners are invited to attend neighborhood meetings and a series of public hearings regarding such proposals. The Design Review and Preservation Commission, the City Planning Commission and City Council vote on the legislation, officially designating an area as a City Historic District.

What are the benefits of City historic district designation?

City Historic District designation recognizes the historical significance of Wilmington’s unique neighborhoods and cultural resources. Such designation helps increase property values by protecting the elements that define the area’s character. Property owners within City Historic Districts may also be eligible for City tax abatement, Federal and State tax credits, and other limited funding programs.

What work items are reviewed?

All proposals for exterior work on any elevation of any structure or site within a City Historic District must be reviewed and approved prior to initiating work. The Department of Licenses and Inspections will not issue a building permit until the design review process is complete. Property owners risk financial penalties and the removal of unauthorized work if changes are made without a building permit and design review approval.

Reviewable work activities include, but are not limited to the following items:

  • Maintenance
  • Renovation
  • Alterations
  • New Construction
  • Demolition
  • Changes in Topography

Contact Planning

Mailing Address:
Department of Planning and Development
Louis L. Redding City/County Building
800 N. French Street, 7th Floor
Wilmington DE 19801

(302) 576-3100

(302) 571-4119

City Planning Commission:
(302) 576-3100

Design Review and Preservation Commission:
(302) 576-3113

Neigborhood Planning Councils:
(302) 576-3109