Our work at the Landmarks Commission
Learn about how we work to protect Boston’s historic resources.
WHO WE ARE
The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) is Boston’s preservation planning agency. We perform a wide range of historic preservation and cultural resource management functions.
The enabling legislation that established the BLC in 1975 states the purpose of the Commission:
- To protect the beauty of the city of Boston and improve the quality of its environment through identification, recognition, conservation, maintenance and enhancement of areas, sites, structures and fixtures which constitute or reflect distinctive features of the political, economic, social, cultural or architectural history of the city;
- To foster appropriate use and wider public knowledge and appreciation of such features, areas, sites, structures and fixtures;
- To resist and restrain environmental influences adverse to such purposes;
- To encourage private efforts in support of such purposes; and
- By furthering such purposes, to promote the public welfare, to strengthen the cultural and educational life of the city and the commonwealth and to make the city a more attractive and desirable place in which to live and work.
Preserving historic structures supports the City’s carbon neutrality and zero waste goals by preserving the upfront embodied carbon, which is the energy it took to harvest, manufacture, and transport building materials that make up these properties.
The Boston Landmarks Commission and the nine local historic district commissions are comprised of volunteers nominated from professional organizations and neighborhood groups specified in each commission’s legislation. All commissioners must be appointed by the Mayor, and require City Council confirmation.
There are over 8000 properties designated as individual Landmarks or located within Boston’s local historic districts, please see our map. BLC Landmark designation provides a level of protection from physical changes that might compromise the integrity of the resource.
Landmarks Commission staff administers design review for individual designated and pending Landmarks, and for each of Boston's nine local historic district commissions. The design review process is the same for all commissions - learn more about each commission below:
- Boston Landmarks Commission
- Aberdeen Architectural Conservation District
- Back Bay Architectural District
- Bay State Road/Back Bay West Architectural Conservation District
- Bay Village Historic District
- Historic Beacon Hill District
- Fort Point Channel Landmark District
- Mission Hill Triangle Architectural Conservation District
- Saint Botolph Area Architectural Conservation District
- South End Landmark District
ARTICLE 85 DEMOLITION DELAY
The Boston Landmarks Commission administers Article 85 of the City’s Zoning Code. Article 85 establishes a process for reviewing the demolition of buildings in Boston. Learn more about Article 85 demolition delay.
The City Archaeology Program was founded in 1983 to protect Boston’s archaeological resources. The City Archaeologist acts as the review and compliance agent for the city’s below-ground cultural resources. The City Archaeology Laboratory in West Roxbury houses many collections of artifacts. Learn more about the City Archaeology Program.
RESEARCH AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
There is information on many buildings in Boston as part of an ongoing Cultural Resource Inventory. BLC survey forms for properties throughout the city can be accessed through Mass. Historical Commission's online database. Additional resources for research and technical assistance are available. Please note that the BLC is not an archive or a historical society. While BLC staff cannot perform research for constituents, we will provide assistance whenever possible in the use of research tools and in locating information sources.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
The Boston Landmarks Commission participates in the review and approval of National Register of Historic Places nominations. Local Landmark designation is substantially different than National Register listing, learn more about the National Register of Historic Places.
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