What We Do
The City of Palo Alto values its historic resources and understands the need to preserve and protect its culturally, historically and architecturally significant places in order to create a vibrant and sustainable community that fully reflects Palo Alto’s diverse past.
The City of Palo Alto’s Historic Preservation Program began in 1979 and currently boasts four National Register Districts and hundreds of individually significant resources. The City of Palo Alto Planning & Community Environment Department and Historic Resources Board (HRB) designate, review and promote historic resources.
There are many ways to protect, preserve, interpret and celebrate our shared historic resources. In Palo Alto, design guidelines, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, historic walking tours and community outreach events are just some of the ways we accomplish this goal. The facts surrounding the ownership of a historic property can sometimes be misrepresented and we are here to straighten out any misconception.
If you have specific questions regarding design review, what modifications can be made to a historic property, historic listing status for a property, how to research your home, the benefits of preserving historic places or what an Historic Resources Board (HRB) meeting entails, please read through the Project Review page. Additionally, don't hesitate to contact us with any other questions you may have.
Areas of Work
We’re here to help with the following tools and programs.
- Project Review
- Preservation Highlights
- Preservation Incentives
- Palo Alto Inventory, California Register & National Register
- Historic Districts
- Historic Resources Surveys
- History of Palo Alto
- Historic Preservation Resources
What We're Up to Now
We're staying busy with the following projects and events.
- Eichler Design Guidelines
The City just finished developing architectural design guidelines for Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods that were developed by Eichler Homes following World War II. The guidelines include compatibility criteria for remodels, additions, and new construction within the City’s Eichler neighborhoods. The illustrated guidelines provide advice and direction for undertaking work in ways that retain the architectural character of the neighborhoods. The guidelines address common scopes of work such as new building additions, façade changes, moving/lifting buildings on lots, and new construction on developable sites. Please see our page on Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines for more information.
- Preservation Month! (May 2018)
Although it’s always preservation month around here, May has officially held the title since 1973. This is a great time to showcase the social and economic benefits of historic preservation! The California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) invites all California communities and preservation enthusiasts to make the month of May an opportunity for discovering/re-discovering, honoring, and sharing the unique heritage of your local region. Visit a historic site, sponsor or attend a cultural festival or event, nominate a historically significant property to the National Register of Historic Places. Has your family lived in your community for generations or did they immigrate more recently from another country? Write up your history, include photographs, and create a family history book. Historic preservation is not only about preserving buildings and sites, but also the stories and traditions connected to those places. Preserve the history, tell the stories! We are looking forward to celebrating Preservation Month in Palo Alto this year.
- California Preservation Foundation Conference - May 17-20, 2018 - Deep Roots in Dynamic Times
CPF provides statewide leadership, advocacy and education to ensure the protection of California's diverse cultural heritage and historic places. Palo Alto is proud to host this year's California Preservation Foundation Annual Conference! Historic preservation faces enormous challenges in a time of rapid change. This conference will examine the most innovative methods and strategies for upholding and instituting historic preservation, both across the state and in the dynamic, high-tech region of the Silicon Valley. See iconic historic places in tours, mobile workshops, and engaging conference sessions. Come together to explore how historic preservationists, affordable housing advocates, architects, designers, planners, engineers and more can partner together in upholding our cultural heritage in a fast-paced, economically vibrant state and region.
Chief Planning Official & HRB Liaison
Historic Resources Board