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Historic Designation Process

Any person can petition the Historic Preservation Commission for the designation of a site.

Follow the steps below to apply for historic designation of a site or district:

  1. To apply for designation of a site or structure, fill out a Historic Site Designation Application.  To apply for designation of district or other defined area, fill out a Historic District Designation Application (and refer to intrusctions for this application if needed).

  2. Submit your application with supporting documents in an email to or via the post office to the address listed on the right side of this web page.

  3. Once submitted, applications are reviewed by the staff for completeness and accuracy before being scheduled for presentation to the Commission.

  4. During the presentation to the Commission, if a decision is made that a site appears to be historically significant, the Commission instructs the staff to prepare a Historic Designation Study Report. Staff also is instructed to notify the owner or owners of the affected property, as well as the owners of all properties that lie within two hundred feet of the boundaries of the proposed site or district, and inform them of the justification for and probable effects of the proposed designation.  Your attendance at the Commission meeting for this step is optional, but may be helpful if questions arise that your submission form cannot answer.

  5. A minimum of twenty-five days after the notification letters are mailed, a public hearing is scheduled.  You should plan to attend this meeting with your supporting materials should any questions arise.

  6. Following the public hearing the Commission decides whether or not to recommend the site for designation to the Common Council and informs the affected property owners of their recommendation by letter.

  7. If the site is recommended for historic designation, the Common Council then votes to either approve or deny the designation at their next meeting.  If the measure is approved, congratulations!  Your request for historic designation has been approved.

If the designation is approved, the City Clerk notifies the owners of the affected property, the appropriate alderpeople, the Commissioners of City Development, Public Works and Neighborhood Services, and files a notice of the designation with the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds to be recorded with the deeds of the affected properties.

Once notified of the designation by the City Clerk, the Commissioner of Neighborhood Services/Development Center will not issue a building permit for a designated historic site or structure within a historic district without first obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) from the Commission.

Further Information

City Hall
200 E. Wells St., Room B-4

Milwaukee, WI 53202

(414) 286-5712


Cream of the Cream City
Historic Preservation Awards

Thank you to all who attended the 
Cream of the Cream City Awards ceremony held on May 29, 2014
at Best Place at the Pabst.

View photos of the event below:

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To view past award winners, please visit: