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Durham Historical Society vs Historic District Commission:

There is a difference! We are the Historic District Commission, the regulatory body obliged by state statute to preserve and protect the buildings and places of historic interest within the Town’s Historic District.The Historical Society is a separate group dedicated to the history of Durham.


Windows. Can I replace them?

Yes, we do frequently approve window replacements. Many of our buildings have replacement windows which need replacing, and some have original wood windows with extensive rot. If your windows do require attention, we do ask that replacements be as close in appearance to the original windows and that they include exterior grilles. Feel free to scroll through previous APCOAs to find windows which have met with approval.

Fences. Do I need approval?

Yes, all permanent structures need Historic District approval. After ensuring you meet Planning and Zoning requirements, you should bring your design plan to us in the form of an APCOA. We have approved wood, iron, and manufactured wood fences in the past. Take a walk up and down Main Street for ideas! One detail to note: the historic aesthetic necessitates erring toward matte finishes and away from high gloss finishes.
•    Materials. Are modern materials like manufactured wood allowed? Yes! We understand that these buildings exist in the 21st century and support well-chosen materials, whether that means cedar or a newer technology.
•    Like for Like. What if I need to replace a rotten cedar clapboard but I want to use cedar to replace it. Do I need permission? No, as long as you are replacing like for like (including cedar clapboard for cedar clapboard or asphalt shingle for asphalt shingle), you don’t need our permission. Our objective is to maintain or improve the historic appearance, so a like for like repair doesn’t require an APCOA.
•    What is the process if I need to make changes to materials or appearance? Link to the Application Process