Helpful Message to Prospective Homebuyers & Current Property Owners

Thinking about buying property or making changes to a property that lies within a historic district?

In the early 1970's Rockport residents began to express an interest in preserving and protecting the Town's distinctive and historic characteristics. Over time, we established four downtown areas known as Historic Districts: Main Street and Mt. Pleasant/South Street Districts (1977), Downtown Historic District (1981), and the Broadway District (1983). The Historical Commission was created to implement, oversee, and adhere to the Town's bylaws that recognize the treatment of properties in the Districts.

Rockport is deeply loved by residents and those who come here to vacation, paint, walk the beaches, and support our businesses. Many believe that proximity to the ocean together with the magnetism of our historic character and charm helps maintain property values, attract visitors, and ensure a special way of life.

The goal of the Historical Commission is to find the right balance of accommodation between the needs of property owners and the intent of the design guidelines to preserve the external appearance of properties, and whenever possible, original materials, particularly in structures of historical significance. Though we strive for uniformity and consistency in our decision-making process, every applicant, project, and material represents a unique set of circumstances and mindful consideration. The Commission weighs many factors including the extent to which a property or its surroundings had been previously altered, to what degree a change is visible from a public way, spatial relations to nearby structures, and its historical significance, to name a few.

Historic preservation is not a static endeavor. The RHC recognizes that as times change, so do the building materials we consider. Advancements in technology have reduced the size of cooling and communications equipment, and product development has made historic-looking gutters readily available and cost-efficient. Furthermore, many properties in the Districts sit along the ocean's edge and are exposed to harsh weather conditions. As a result, non-historic materials are often approved on the ocean-facing façade.

While the Commission tries hard to accommodate the needs of property owners, there are certain construction and building material considerations that property owners must factor in. The benefits of historic appearance and preservation are paramount, and owners should carefully consider potential limitations to change when contemplating purchase, expansion, demolition, renovation, remodeling, building materials, and location of modern equipment.

Absent the efforts of the Historical Commission, the uniformity and consistency of historic appearance is highly uncertain. The Rockport Historical Commission is committed to preserving Rockport's historic character while helping homeowners comply with the Design Guidelines Rules and Regulations. The best strategy is to meet with the Commission before making any decisions or beginning any project, and we will help you with our guidance and advice.