Historic Landmark Preservation Commission


The Historic Landmark Preservation Commission was established in 1999 to adopt and disseminate criteria for the designation of historical, cultural, architectural, archaeological, paleontological and natural landmarks and the delineation of historic districts; provides recommendations on landmarks and historic districts; and increase public awareness of the value of historic preservation.

The Commission consists of 12 members and 1 youth member who are appointed by the City Council.

Preservation America Designation

The Preserve America Communities program recognizes and designates communities that protect and celebrate their heritage, use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization, and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs.

The City of Waco was designated as a 2007 Preserve America Community. This prestigious designation gives the City of Waco eligibility to apply for Preserve America Grants; the right to use the Preserve America logo on signs and promotional materials; notification to state tourism offices; and listing in a Web-based directory that showcases the City of Waco’s preservation efforts and heritage tourism destinations. Waco will also be featured in National Register Travel Itineraries and in “Teaching with Historic Places” curricular materials created by the National Park Service.

The Preserve America initiative is a national effort to encourage and support community efforts to preserve and enjoy America’s priceless cultural and natural heritage. The goals of the initiative include a greater shared knowledge about the nation’s past; strengthened regional identities and local pride; increased local participation in preserving the country’s cultural and natural heritage assets; and support for the economic vitality of our communities.

Preservation Excellence Awards

The Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission created the Preservation Excellence Awards program in the spring of 2005 to increase the community’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation to the City of Waco through recognition of outstanding efforts by individuals, businesses, private institutions, and public entities.

The Preservation Excellence Awards program is the only one of its kind in McLennan County. The first ceremony took place on September 14, 2005 at the Madison Cooper House. Since its establishment, awards have been presented to local preservationists annually.

Preservation Excellence Awards and locally designated historic landmarks differ in their intent. The Preservation Excellence Awards are intended to encourage, praise and thank local property owners and citizens for their commitment to historic preservation.

Candidates are chosen by the Historic Landmark Preservation Commission and nominations are accepted at any time.

Map of Historic Landmarks

View Waco's Historic Landmarks in a larger map

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Designation Process


Per Section 28-1139 of the zoning ordinance, a site may be designated as a historic landmark if any of the following applies:

  1. It possesses significance with respect to history, culture, architecture, archeology, paleontology, or as a natural site with a demonstrable cultural association;
  2. It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of local, regional, state, national, or international history;
  3. It is associated with the lives of persons significant in local, regional, state, national, or international history;
  4. It embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction;
  5. It represents the work of a master designer, builder, or craftsman; or
  6. It represents a distinctive and familiar visual feature of the city.


Submit a completed application for Historic Landmark designation with photos of the property and contributing structures, and any supporting documentation about the property’s historical significance to the City of Waco Planning Services Department.


  • Ad Valorem Tax Exemption: Any property which has been designated as a historic landmark shall qualify for an exemption of City ad valorem taxes, provided that the historic landmark has been determined by the City Council to be a historically or archaeologically significant site in need of tax relief to encourage its preservation. The tax exemption shall exempt from City ad valorem taxation any increase in the assessed value of the building or structure and the land necessary for access and use of the building/structure following the designation by the City Council for a period of 10 years.
  • Permit Fee Refund: After the property has been improved so as to be eligible for a tax exemption, the owner may file an application with the Planning Services Department for refund of permit fees together with a copy of the certificate of the historic preservation commission showing that the property has been granted a tax exemption. Within 30 days of receiving the application for permit fee refund and the City verifies that the property owner is eligible for a refund, the City shall refund the city, building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, or sign permit fees which were paid for work on the project. This refund will be made to the party who owns the property at the time of the refund.

For more information about tax exemption and permit fee refunds, see Section 28-1141 of City of Waco Historic District and Landmark Zoning. Click here to see Historic Landmark ordinance.

Long-term Requirements

Owning a locally designated historic landmark entails a great responsibility to the property. The status of historic landmarks will be monitored by city inspectors, in consultation with the Historic Preservation Officer, on an annual basis to ensure continued compliance with the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating historic Buildings” or to ensure against demolition by neglect as stated in section 28-1149 in the Ordinance. For more information about the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Standards and Guidelines please visit their page.

Certificate of Appropriateness

Any owner of a property designated as a historic landmark must obtain a certificate of appropriateness before making any alterations to the exterior of the property which require the issuance of a building permit. The “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards” are made available to owners of Historic Landmarks. The Historic Landmark Preservation Commission uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards as a guide when considering an application for a certificate of appropriateness.

See Sections 28-1143 and 28-1144 under the City of Waco Code and Ordinance, Chapter 28 - Zoning Ordinance Article X for procedures of a certificate of appropriateness and criteria for approval of a certificate of appropriateness.


Will designation as a historic landmark protect my property from demolition?

A demolition is any act or process that, in whole or in part, destroys, razes or permanently impairs the structural integrity of a building, structure, object, or site which has been designated a historic landmark.

A demolition delay for a historic landmark is a ruling by the Historic Landmark Preservation Commission, upon application for a certificate of appropriateness, which delays the granting of a demolition permit for a historic landmark property for a reasonable period of time in order to allow time for efforts to preserve the building, structures, object or site.

An automatic delay of up to 90 days may also be granted to properties considered to be eligible for designation as a historic landmark, but not so designated.

A demolition denial is a ruling by the Historic Landmark Preservation Commission, upon an application for a certificate of appropriateness, which denies a demolition permit in order to preserve the building, structure, object, or site.

Does historic designation require me to "retrofit" my property to have a more "historic" character?

No, historic designation will not require retrofitting. If a property owner elects to make an addition or an improvement to his/her property after the designation, the addition will need architectural review by the Historic Landmark Preservation Commission.

Will my taxes increase?

No, historic designation alone does not increase taxes. Property taxes are based upon the McLennan County Appraisal District (MCAD) appraised value of the land, plus the improvements (buildings) on the land.

Will I always need to hire an architect?

No, just as before a designation, minor changes to a property probably would not need the services of an architect. However, just as with undesignated properties, an owner would probably elect to hire an architect or other design or engineering professional to assist in plans for a major change to his/her property. Employment of an architect is at the discretion of the owner.

Are there grant monies available to renovate my home?


Does it affect changes to the interior of the property?

No, the Historic Landmark Preservation Commission only reviews exterior modifications.

Does it affect the use of my property?

No, the use of your property is regulated by the City’s zoning ordinance. Whatever uses are permitted by the zoning for the property are not affected by historic designation.