City of Cambridge

Historical Commission

Photo of the front steps of City Hall

The Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) is the city's historic preservation agency and seeks to preserve the integrity and diversity of Cambridge's built environment and to disseminate information about its history. The CHC protects designated properties throughout the city and preserves the integrity of Cambridge's many significant buildings. The CHC advises private and commercial owners, institutions, and public agencies on historic preservation issues, and participates in reviews of state and federal projects that impact historic resources.

The CHC maintains a public archive on the city's history. The collection focuses on the city's architectural and social history and contains information on all 13,000+ Cambridge buildings. It also includes thousands of historic photographs and maps as well as information on many individuals and organizations.

Tips and FAQs

Districts & Historic Properties

Cambridge has two Historic Districts and four Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs). Learn more on the district homepages at left.

Individual properties can be protected by Preservation Easement or Landmark designation.

All demolition permit applications must be reviewed by staff and may require a hearing with the Historical Commission if the structure is more than 50 years old. Learn more about the Demolition Delay Ordinance.

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is a federal and state planning tool, with limited local regulations.

Learn more about Cambridge's Districts and Historic Properties.

Download an Application to Make Changes to a Designated Historic Property

You can view and download for any of our districts Application for Certificate. If you are not sure if you need to apply, you can call the Commission office (617/349-4683) to speak with a staff member.

Books on Cambridge History

Several publication on local history and neighborhood development are available for research or purchase. No purchase is necessary to view the books; office copies of all the books are available for reference at the commission library. Many of these books are also available at the Cambridge Public Library.

Preservation Grants

The Cambridge Historical Commission is a municipal agency concerned with the history of Cambridge and the preservation of significant older structures in the city. To aid in the preservation and rehabilitation of these older buildings, the Commission administers various federal, state, and local programs. One of these is the local Preservation Grants program.

Grants are available in two categories:

Last Updated: 4/19/2017

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