Red Brick

providing leadership, education and advocacy to help preserve our historic community est 1971

Frequently Asked Questions

I heard that you need the City's approval for changes to your property

In 1997, Staunton passed an historic district overlay ordinance which states, synopsis:
~any exterior change to your home that resides within a Staunton historic district that is visible from a city street must be approved by the City of Staunton Historic Preservation Commission.

Please view the City's website for the detailed understanding of Staunton's historic districts, guidelines, and application process.

Residential Historic District Design Guidelines.pdf

What is the HPC?

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is a City appointed committee of volunteers who review applications for exterior changes in historic districts (called Certificates of Appropriateness or COAs).

The Process:
COA applications may be picked up from the City's Planning office (3rd floor, City Hall) or downloaded off the City's website.  COAs submitted to the City's Planning Office by the 1st of the month are reviewed and voted on at that's month's HPC meeting.  The HPC meets 5:30 p.m. at City Chambers on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Homeowners/Building owners are required to be in attendance.  

Frank Strassler, HSF's Executive Director, writes COA reviews for the HPC based on the Secretary of Interior's Standards and Guidelines and Staunton's historic districts design guidelines.  He is not a voting member of the HPC.

Historic Staunton Foundation is here to help homeowners & building owners understand the guidelines and how they apply to their project. 

This is a free service.  Please make an appointment!  Contact Frank Strassler at for more information.

Note:  HSF will not offer design recommendations that conflict with the Secretary of Interior Guidelines for Historic Rehabilitation or the City's review process.

How do I know if my home is in a historic district?
The City's Website has a GIS map with a historic districts command; the historic district map is posted as well.  Or, you may email us ( with the property's address, and we will check for you.

Do repairs go before the HPC?
Ordinary maintenance & repairs made with the exact same materials do not go before the commission. See Staunton City Zoning Code 18.85.060  for clarification, either call our office (540) 885-7676 or email

Does the HPC review painting / paint colors?
The HPC does not normally review paint with two exceptions:
1)  There is a clause in the code concerning "violent contrasts of materials or colors and intense and lurid colors or patterns, or a multiplicity of incongruous details clearly inconsistent with the character of the present structures or with the prevailing character of the surroundings and the historic district." which would go before the commission on a complaint basis.
2) The original painting of masonry surfaces is not exempted from review.  If your home is unpainted brick, you must go before the commission before you paint it.  This practice is not often encouraged. Many 19th century masonry homes were coated with a lime wash or linseed oil and iron oxide stain to give brick a uniform appearance and the mortar joints were then line stenciled.  Most of those coatings have long ago deteriorated exposing the original brick. These historic materials were physically very different than coatings  used today. The application of modern paints latex or oil to brick causes many problems with the preservation of the brick and encourages long term maintenance problems. see Secretary of Interior Rehabilitation Guidelines

Can I get tax credits for my rehabilitation?
There are Federal tax credits and State tax credits available for rehabilitation.  The process is involved.  Homeowners usually hire consultants to help with the applications.  Documentation usually needs to be made before any work is done on the property.  Federal Tax credits are for commercials properties (for at least five years). See Virginia's Department of Historic Resources (DHR) for more information.

My rehab is an obvious improvement to my neighborhood, why do I have to go before the HPC?
Consistency and precedence.  Everyone goes through the same process, utilizing the same guidelines.
 by Donovan Rypkema

The good news is historic preservation is good for the economy. In the last fifteen years dozens of studies have been conducted throughout the United States, by different analysts, using different methodologies. But the results of those studies are remarkably consistent — historic preservation is good for the local economy. From this large and growing body of research, the positive impact of historic preservation on the economy has been documented in six broad areas: 1) jobs, 2) property values, 3) heritage tourism, 4) environmental impact, 5) social impact, and 6) downtown revitalization.
Strengths of Local Listing
"Experienced preservationists know that historic districts are preserved and enhanced through small steps, carefully taken. They know that the collective integrity of individual buildings imparts a distinct local identity, especially if they are complemented by street trees and landscaping, intact sidewalks, and flexible zoning that respects the historic geometry and function of existing neighborhoods… To achieve this goal, however, they must do more than rely on state and federal preservation laws…Historic district preservation usually occurs locally, beyond the scope of state and federal legislation."

Erik Nelson, Senior Preservation Planner, City of Fredericksburg, VA