Owning a Historic Landmark Home in the Town of Pittsford
Benefits, Guidelines & Resources
A note from the Supervisor
A historic landmark home is a property designated by the Town of Pittsford's Design Review and Historic Preservation Board as significant to the Town due to its historic character, architecture, and/or relevance to Town history. Historic Landmark designation of your home officially recognizes its special value as an important part of Pittsford's heritage.
This brochure describes the benefits of owning a historic home, provides helpful guidelines for historic property owners, and notes resources available for further information about historic home ownership. As an owner of a Pittsford historic landmark home myself, I would like to thank you for your part in helping to preserve the unique character and history of our community.
Bill Smith, Pittsford Town Supervisor
Benefits of owning a historic landmark home*
While each historic home has its own allure, qualities, and story that make it of value to the owner, there are many benefits common to designated landmark home owners:
Value & Protection
- Preserving the historic integrity of a home through landmark designation can have a positive impact on its value; many national studies indicate that landmark designation stabilizes and increases property value.
- A designated historic landmark home is protected from future inappropriate or incompatible exterior changes, preserving the character and history of your home, neighborhood and community.
Pride & Assurance
- You will know that your home is highly valued as a unique historic resource in our community.
- As the owner of a Pittsford landmark home, you join others personally committed to maintaining and preserving an exceptional part of our community's heritage.
- You can be assured that the home's special historic or architectural character will be considered and protected in Town planning efforts if new development or changes to contiguous property is proposed.
Tax Exemption Opportunities for Exterior Preservation Efforts
- The New York State Real Property Tax Law and the Town of Pittsford Landmark Property Tax Exemption Law provide a temporary tax exemption to the extent of any value increase attributable to exterior alterations or rehabilitation for historic preservation purposes. This tax exemption is available only for designated landmarks. Approval from the Town Assessor and a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board are required. For more information, contact the Town Assessor's office at (585) 248-6230.
* The information above also applies to structures other than homes which are either included in the designation of the home (such as barns or other outbuildings) or individually designated (such as nonresidential buildings, canal locks, and cemeteries)
Guidelines - Historic Landmark Home Care
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need the approval of DRHPB to make changes to my historic landmark home?
Any new construction, demolition, or changes to the appearance of the structure’s exterior that can be seen from the street requires a Certificate of Appropriateness from the DRHPB. Examples include an addition or removal of a porch or shutters, adding a window, site changes such as moving a driveway or building a fence, etc.
- If I want to build an addition to my historic landmark home, can I get advice from DRHPB before I start design?
If you would like to make a significant alteration to your home, the DRHPB is happy to review preliminary plans during an informal review. Board members can provide advice on appropriate design, materials and color as well as suggest resources that may offer additional guidance or services.
- How do I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness?
Application forms are available from the Town of Pittsford Building Department at the Pittsford Town Hall or at www.townofpittsford.org. Submission of the completed application and required documents, such as the plans, maps, photographs and drawings that show the existing condition and proposed changes to the structure, must be made at least four weeks before the next DRHPB meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled and the applicant should appear before the board on the scheduled meeting night to explain the proposed changes.
- What happens after I file my application?
Members of the DRHPB will review the proposal to evaluate the effect of the proposed changes on the architectural and historic character of the structure. Members may be able to suggest alternatives that would satisfy the practical requirements while maintaining the architectural integrity of the structure. In many cases, the Board discusses and votes on a Certificate of Appropriateness the same day the public hearing is held. However, they may request additional information about the proposal before voting and may continue the matter at the next meeting.
Resources for Historic Landmark Homeowners
Design Review and Historic Preservation Board
Your resource for historic landmark home ownership.
A legally constituted board, the DRHPB is responsible for identifying, designating, and protecting historically significant properties in the Town of Pittsford and for promoting historic preservation through education. The DRHPB regulates exterior changes to designated landmarks and can provide guidance and information to homeowners regarding maintenance, preservation efforts, materials and service providers. Additionally, the board reviews and approves architectural plans for all new construction and reviews applications for exterior changes to existing non-historic homes and other structures.
This seven-member board is appointed by the Town Board. It consists of Town residents, volunteers who have a background in the principles and practices of historic preservation or are otherwise conversant with them. The board receives support and guidance from the Town attorney, other Town staffers , an architectural preservation consultant and the Town Historian. The DRHPB meets the second and fourth Thursday each month at Town Hall.
Members of the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board are cooperative partners who can guide you in maintaining your historic landmark home and in making alterations or additions appropriate to the house and its history.
Further Resources for HIstoric Landmark Homeowners
Town of Pittsford Historic Preservation webpage
Find information about historic landmark home ownership and landmark designation, as well as preservation resources.
Town of Pittsford Building & Code Department (585) 248-6265
Information regarding historic landmark designation, maintenance, alterations, and Design Review & Historic Preservation Board meetings.
Pittsford Town Historian (585) 248-6245
Maintains and preserves Pittsford's historical records and information regarding historic buildings, resident ancestry and genealogy, and historic events.
Pittsford Town Supervisor (585) 248-6220
Comments or questions about the Town's preservation efforts.
Pittsford Town Assessor (585) 248-6230
Property value and tax exemption information.
Historic Pittsford (585) 381-2941
Local nonprofit membership organization that promotes the preservation and restoration of Pittsford's history and historic resources through community education and advocacy.
Landmark Society of Western New York (585) 546-7029
Regional nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the unique architectural heritage of our region and promoting preservation and planning practices that foster healthy, livable, and sustainable communities.
Designating a Historic Property
From Special Property to Historic Landmark
A note from the Supervisor
A historic landmark home is a property designated by the Town of Pittsford's Design Review and Historic Preservation Board as significant to the Town due to its historic character, architecture, and/or relevance to Town history. The Town of Pittsford takes great pride in our community's heritage. Currently, there are more than 90 designated historic landmark properties in the Town which contribute immensely to the character of Pittsford and are an integral part of its appeal.
This brochure outlines the criteria and process for historic landmark designation and highlights some of the benefits of owning a historic landmark home. We have also included a list of informational resources as well.
As a homeowner who went through the designation process myself, I can assure you Town staff and members of our Design Review and Historic Preservation Board are most helpful and eager to provide assistance. I thank you for your interest in historic landmark designation.
Bill Smith, Pittsford Town Supervisor
Criteria for Historic Landmark Designation
To be eligible for designation as a historic landmark, a home or other structure such as a barn typically should be at least 50 years old and must be found significant under one or more of the following Standards of Designation as contained in the Town Preservation Code:
- Possesses special character or historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the cultural, political, economic or social history of the town, or
- Is identified with historic personages, or
- Embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, or
- Is the work of a designer whose work has significantly influenced an age, or
- Because of a unique location or singular physical characteristic, represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood.
In 2015, the Town commissioned a survey by a preservation consultant to identify homes and other structures that meet the criteria above. These properties are considered “Inventoried” and are eligible for historic landmark designation. Many other homes may qualify as well. To find out if your home is on the Inventoried list, contact the Town Building and Code Department.
Process for Historic Landmark Designation
Any person or organization may make a request for historic landmark designation by completing the Application for Landmark Designation available on the Town website or from the Town Building Department. There is no processing fee for this application. Once an application has been accepted, the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board will conduct a public hearing to review the application and determine if the home or other structure meets one or more of the Standards of Designation. The home owner will be notified and encouraged to attend and participate in the hearing. After careful consideration, the Board will vote on a resolution of designation.
Benefits of Historic Landmark Designation
Owning and living in a historic landmark home has its benefits. One is knowing that the home is special and that the Town of Pittsford greatly values such properties. Many national statistics have also suggested that owning a designated historic home can enhance the value and potential sale of the property. Another is protection from future inappropriate or incompatible exterior changes, thus preserving the special historic or architectural details of the home. In addition, the home owner may be eligible for a tax exemption for increases in property value as a result of alterations or rehabilitation for the purpose of historic preservation. This tax exemption is available only for properties that contain designated landmarks.
For important additional information on the tax exemption and other benefits of historic landmark home ownership, and guidelines to making exterior changes to historic landmarks, please see the brochure Owning a Historic Landmark Home in the Town of Pittsford available on the Town website or from the Town Building Department.
The Design Review and Historic Preservation Board
The Town of Pittsford Design Review and Historic Preservation Board is a seven member volunteer board appointed by the Town Board and responsible for identif ying, designating, and protecting historically significant properties in the Town of Pittsford. The Board also regulates exterior changes to designated historic landmarks. Members of the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board are helpful partners who will provide guidance on maintaining a historic landmark or making appropriate alterations. This Board meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at Town Hall.