Galveston is nationally recognized for its historic resources which are enjoyed by residents, business owners, and visitors as links to the City’s heritage while also setting the stage for a vibrant future. Preserving these assets is essential to Galveston’s well-being. The City’s Historic Preservation Program promotes the community’s vision for sustainable preservation by guiding appropriate stewardship of historic resources and compatible redevelopment in locally-designated historic districts.
The historic district regulations are administered by the City’s Historic Preservation Officer and the Galveston Landmark Commission. The Landmark Commission is the review board for the historic districts. It is a citizen board that is charged with reviewing new construction, rehabilitation, restoration, and demolition of buildings. Most projects can be determined administratively, however, if Landmark Commission review is needed, the Planning & Development Division staff will be available to answer questions and guide you through the process.
Projects being reviewed by the Landmark Commission must adhere to the "Design Standards for Historic Properties." This document is also used by staff and can be extremely helpful for homeowners.
The Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) and the Rosenberg Library’s Texas History Center are valuable resources in researching the history of your property. The Texas History Center has a site dedicated to House and Property research: https://www.galvestonhistorycenter.org/research/house-property-research-guide.
History of the Historic Preservation Program
In the early 1960s, citizens of Galveston became aware that the City was losing many of its historic buildings to demolition and neglect. Howard Barnstone’s The Galveston That Was influenced many local residents to seek protection of historic resources through enacting ordinances and historical zoning regulations. The Galveston Historical Foundation was also instrumental in galvanizing residents into action.
The Galveston City Council recognized the importance of protecting historical areas by providing for “Historical” zoning districts in the late 1960s. The “Historical” zoning district not only required review of exterior alterations but also changed the underlying land use zoning. The Galveston Historical Foundation subsequently led the effort to study and begin recording the historically significant architecture remaining in the city. The final result was the creation of a Development Plan for Historical Zoning and adoption by the City Council of a Historical Zoning District Ordinance in the summer of 1970.
The Historic District Review board was created by the City to oversee projects within the residential districts. All projects were reviewed for conformance with the Historical District Guide, which was created in 1972. The grant provided for a comprehensive study of the historic area and development of a guide for the administration of the Historical District Ordinance.
Historic Landmarks Interactive Map
National Preservation Month 2019
In May, the City’s YouTube channel began featuring iconic city landmarks in celebration of National Preservation Month. View the videos by clicking on the tabs below.