What is a Historic District?
A historic district is a special overlay zoning area that preserves and safeguards special areas of historical and architectural value.
What is under the jurisdiction of the Historic District Commission?
There are 619 properties under the jurisdiction of the Bristol HDC, most within the Bristol Historic District. Of the 619 properties, 35 structures have been individually designated for HDC review because of their exceptional historical and/or architectural significance.
What is the background of the Historic District Commission?
The HDC was created in 1987 to protect the town’s developmental patterns and architectural character. Its buildings, structures, sites, settings, and landscapes reflect elements of Bristol’s distinctive history. Chapter 14 of the Bristol Town Code establishes the authority of the HDC to approve or deny proposed exterior work to any property located within the local historic district.
Do all changes require review?
No. Some work such as painting is not reviewed. The Commission only reviews work which affects the exterior appearance of a designated property or its setting. Many minor projects can be approved by Historic District Commission staff through an Administrative Review. More information can be found of the Review Process page here.
Does the Historic District Commission review interior alterations?
The Historic District Commission reviews only the interior renovations and repairs that change the exterior of the building. For example, the relocation of exterior doors and windows.
Does the Historic District Commission review paint colors?
No. Paint color reflects personal taste and does not change the integrity of a structure. The Historic District Commission reviews color only when it is integral to specific building materials (like roof shingles). The Commission can provide advice on period paint colors upon request.
Can I sandblast my building?
No. Sandblasting is extremely damaging to wood and brick surfaces and will not be approved. The Historic District Commission can advise about gentler cleaning methods.
Can I replace my windows?
Generally, original window sashes can be repaired and retained. If the sash must be replaced, the replacement should match the historic sash in size, operation, materials, configuration, number of lights, and detail. Window manufacturers offer a wide variety of factory-made windows appropriate for historic buildings.
Can I make changes to my exterior siding?
The exterior siding must conform with the structure’s historic materials, textures, and appearance. Vinyl, aluminum, or other modern composition sidings are not appropriate for historic buildings. These artificial sidings can substantially alter the appearance of a building and can obliterate or hide details such as window and door surrounds, brackets, moldings, and other elements.
Address: 235 High Street, 1st Floor, Bristol, RI 02809
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday | 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Historic District Commission Coordinator
Phone: (401) 253-7000 ext. 153