FAQ - Historic Preservation
The Historic Preservation Board meets every 2nd Wednesday, at 4:00 PM in the Museum's Research Library (1305 8th Street, downstairs M Ave. entrance).
The five members of the Board are volunteers appointed by the City Council. Its members, like many Anacortes residents, believe that our old buildings and homes are among our city’s most valuable assets. The major responsibility of the Board is to identify and encourage the conservation of the City's historic resources by initiating and maintaining a register of historic places and reviewing proposed changes to register properties. The Board serves as the city’s primary resource in matters of historic planning and preservation and also works to raise community awareness of Anacortes’ historic resources. Compilation of the Historic Inventory Database of properties is one such activity. Preservation Awards recognizing significant contributors is another.
Contact the Anacortes Museum, 360-293-1915 if you want to help us with our efforts supporting the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the duties of the Preservation Board?
Ordinance 2530, Section 4 defines the duties of the Preservation Board. Briefly they are to:
- Produce and maintain the Anacortes Historic Inventory.
- Review all permit applications pertaining to these historic resources.
- Initiate and maintain the City of Anacortes Register of Historic Places.
. Review nominations to the City of Anacortes Register of Historic Places.
- Review proposals to change, alter, modify, remodel, move, demolish, or, in some other way, significantly affect properties on the register.
- Serve as the local review board for Special Valuation.
- Conduct all Board meetings in compliance with Chapter 42.30 RCW, Open Public Meetings Act.
- Advise the City of Anacortes Council generally on matters of historic preservation.
- Provide information about preservation incentives.
Why is preservation important?
Our historic buildings are our most tangible connection with the history of our community. These buildings are not hidden away in a museum display case but part of our daily experience, reminding us of our roots. In addition to encouraging civic pride and safeguarding the City's historic, aesthetic, and cultural heritage, preservation helps to stabilize and improve property values. Maintaining the beauty and accomplishments of the past strengthens the city's economy by attracting tourists and new residents.
What projects does the AHPB sponsor?
Some of the Board’s recent activities include,
- installing a series of interpretive panels, the Anacortes Heritage Signs, in locations around town.
- developing an inventory of historic properties in Anacortes; preparing a handbook of historic house styles
- naming preservation award recipients.
- conducting workshops; researching and writing register nominations for the Register of Historic Places and
- developing the House History Program.
- maintaining a website detailing its activities and offering information for all residents interested in historic preservation.
Are there incentives if I want to preserve my house?
For your personal residence there is only Special Valuation, which is a 10-year forbearance of the property tax on your improvements. To be eligible, your house must be in the Anacortes or National Register of Historic Places.
Can I get grants or other funds to help me restore my historic building?
Financial assistance for individuals is currently limited to low-interest loans and state and federal income tax credits for income-producing properties. There are more possible sources if your restoration involves low-income housing. Please refer to our incentives page.
What can the Board do for me?
We can advise you about good ways to restore and maintain the character of your historic property. Further, we can enlist the assistance of state and national experts when it is appropriate – this is a benefit of our being a Certified Local Government entity.
How can I help the AHPB preserve the history and buildings of Anacortes?
Get involved! We need volunteers to help with various projects. Donations can be made to the Anacortes Museum Foundation to help us with our work but please clearly designate them for the Preservation Fund.
What makes an old building historic?
The difference between an historic place and just an old one rests in the meaning it brings as a place that defines and marks our history. For example, a building may be historic because it was designed by a well-known architect or was the first county courthouse or is the place where a significant event occurred. A building may also be historic because it signifies patterns of community development, incorporates local materials and innovative methods in construction, or because it is typical of a significant era in Anacortes’ history.
What kinds of buildings can be historic properties?
Anacortes properties eligible for historic designation must be at least 50 years old and be important for representing broad patterns of Anacortes’ history, for conveying high architectural or artistic values, or for their association with the life of a historically important Anacortes resident.
What is the Anacortes Register of Historic Places?
Please see the About the Register page of our website.
What is the historic inventory (survey) and what is it for?
The Anacortes Historic Inventory is part of the Washington State Inventory of Cultural Resources that documents historic properties (buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects) across the state. Records held in the Inventory document a variety of property types. All permit applications for properties in the inventory are subject to review by the Preservation Board.
What is a Certified Local Government (CLG)?
Local governments that establish a historic preservation program meeting federal and state standards are eligible to apply to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and the National Park Service for certification as a CLG. The Certified Local Government Program is a preservation partnership between local, state and national governments focused on promoting historic preservation at the grass-roots level. The key reasons to become a CLG are:
- access to the expert technical advice of the State Offices as well as the NPS, and
- eligibility to compete for federal funds annually allocated to support local historic preservation projects.
CLG funds may be used for a wide variety of projects such as historic survey work, community planning, local design guidelines, archeology, public education and National Register nomination development as well as direct participation in the review and approval of nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.
What is a Preservation Easement?
An historic preservation easement is a legal agreement that enables a historic property owner to establish certain preservation restrictions while retaining possession and use of the property. There are three general types of historic preservation easements: façade, interior space, and development rights. There is a federal tax credit if the easement is given by donation and the property is on the National Register. Follow the links starting on our incentives page if you want to know more.
What is a section 106 review?
Section 106 refers to a particular part of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 that requires every federal agency to take into account how each of its undertakings could affect historic properties. Section 106 Review is a review process designed to ensure that historic properties are considered during federal project planning. Any project involving federal funds is subject to Section 106 Review. This applies to properties on or eligible for listing on the National Register.
I want to fix up my old house – must it be brought up to code?
The Washington State Historic Building Code, chapter 51-19 WAC, provides an exception from the State Building Code and the Uniform Building Code when authorized by the Anacortes Building Department under rules adopted by the State Building Code Council. We suggest that you work with us, but it is not strictly required. Likewise, it is advisable that your property be on the Anacortes Register of Historic Places even though this too is not a strict requirement. The code does demand compliance with all safety requirements, no exceptions.
Can I make an addition to my old building without ruining its historic value?
New additions should be designed and constructed so that the character-defining features of the historic building are not radically changed, obscured, damaged, or destroyed in the process of rehabilitation. New design should always be clearly differentiated so that the addition does not appear to be part of the historic resource. See the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for new additions.