Local Historic Districts

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A local historic district is a district designated by a local ordinance that goes beyond mere recognition of an area’s historic and cultural importance by assuring that an area maintains its integrity by requiring sensitive and knowledgeable review of major exterior property alterations or demolition. There are three Local Historic Districts in the City of Joliet, all of which are located in the Cathedral Area.

Local Historic Districts in Joliet

Upper Bluff District

Raynor's Addition

Whitney Terrace


What Restrictions Apply in a Local Historic District?

Designation of a local district does NOT force residents to bring their houses or buildings up to an architectural standard. The Commission review considers on a case-by-case basis whether proposed changes to properties:

  • are compatible with and appropriate to the historic structure,
  • will highlight or enhance historic exterior features, and
  • harmonize with neighboring properties.

There are no restrictions on routine maintenance of structures.

How is the Character of a Local Historic District Maintained?

The residents of the local historic district and the District Committee of the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission work together to formulate a set of design guidelines. The adopted guidelines are used by the Commission to determine whether proposed property changes, demolition, or new construction is appropriate to and compatible with the historic nature of the district. These types of permanent changes require the concurrence of the Commission by the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness.

What Are the Benefits in Becoming a Local Historic District?

Buildings in the historic district are afforded protection against inappropriate alterations or demolition of historic structures through special ordinance and building permit processes. This can encourage community reinvestment in traditional neighborhoods. Residents in the district can receive assistance with grants (as available) and technical information related to preservation, rehabilitation, and restoration. A “Joliet Historic District” plaque can be displayed on the structures in the district.

Local Historic District vs. National Register Historic District

There is a substantial difference between a local historic district and a National Register Historic District. While both types of historic districts celebrate the architecture and history of that area, properties within a local historic district are subject to design guidelines and preservation standards, which are in place to protect the historic character of that area.

A National Register Historic District:

  • Does not restrict the use or disposition of property or obligate private property owners in any way
  • Does not require conformance to design guidelines or preservation standards when property is rehabilitated unless specific preservation incentives (tax credits, grants) are involved
  • Does not prevent the demolition of historic buildings and structures within designated areas

Establish a Local Historic District for your neighborhood!

The Joliet Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) invites you to consider creating a local historic district for your neighborhood. Information on the nomination process can be found here.