The Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is responsible for designating historic landmarks and historic districts and for approving applications for permission to alter historic buildings.
Any individual or group may nominate a building or place for designation as a Historic Structure, Historic Site, or Historic District. The Historic Preservation Commission reviews the applications and makes a recommendation to the Common Council that a structure or site should be declared "Historic." The Council then acts upon the Commission's recommendation.
After a designation has been approved by the Common Council, the structure, site or district is under the protection of Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Ordinance, and no changes which require a building permit may be made to the exterior unless the owner first obtains a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
This certificate is the Commission's written affirmation that a proposed change is sympathetic to the historic character of the property and is consistent with the intent of the ordinance. When a permit is applied for, the Milwaukee Development Center will check to see if the property in question is a designated Historic Structure, Historic Site or within a Historic District. If it is, the applicant is required to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness.