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Recommended hierarchy of historic resource types and protections

Information
This page provides a summary of how the HRCP recommendations would rename and reorganize the hierarchy of historic resource types, including general summaries of the resource types, applicable regulations, and listing procedures for each.
On this page

The existing hierarchy

rank of protections: nationally registered, then City designated, then conservation landmarks and districts, then historic resource inventory
The existing hierarchy of historic resource types as codified in the zoning code.

Since the 1980s, the City of Portland’s regulations have generally grouped designated landmarks and districts into two categories (Historic and Conservation) and documented-but-undesignated resources into two categories (Ranked and Unranked). Until a change to State Administrative Rule in January 2017, all resources listed in the National Register of Historic Places were automatically identified as either a Historic Landmark or Historic District at the local level. This automatic Historic-level designation also resulted in automatic application of design and demolition protections.

The 2017 change in State Administrative Rule requires local governments to continue to automatically apply demolition protections to resources listed in the National Register in the future, but no longer requires application of design protections to National Register listings. This change provides an opportunity to redesign Portland’s hierarchy of historic resource types — and, consequently the protections that apply to the different levels — as well as to revise the procedures and criteria by which resources can be added to and removed from the hierarchy in the future.


The recommended hierarchy

historic and conservation landmarks and districts have more protections; National register and significant resources have fewer protections
The hierarchy of historic resource types proposed for codification in the zoning code.

The recommended zoning code amendments incorporate the new State Rule and respond to public feedback by establishing a more intentional framework for the designation and protection of historic resources—both those designated today and those that may be designated or have their designation removed in the future. The recommended changes to the resource types and hierarchy of protections simultaneously provide consistency for resources that were designated in the past—Historic Landmarks stay Historic Landmarks and Conservation Districts stay Conservation Districts—and amend the applicable protections for resources at each level to more intentionally differentiate between the types. The recommended hierarchy can be thought of as three tiers of designated resources – Historic (gold standard), Conservation (silver standard), and National Register (bronze standard) – and a single type – Significant Resources (eligibility standard) – for resources determined eligible for future Historic, Conservation, or National Register designation.

Previous to the change in State Rule in 2017, National Register listing and the automatic Historic Landmark or District designation that came with it effectively served as Portland’s gold standard for historic resource designation and protection. With the proliferation of residential National Register Districts in recent years, broad public concerns have been raised regarding the automatic application of protections to National Register listings. While State Rules require the City apply demolition review to National Register resources, the recommended new hierarchy establishes National Register resources as the floor of the designated resource classifications, elevates City-listed Conservation resources to the middle tier, and retains existing and City-designated Historic resources as the gold standard for designation and protection. Proposed listing and removal criteria would allow designated resources—for example the Broadway Bridge or Benson High School—to move up or down the hierarchy based on the resource's historic significance and the appropriateness of protections when considering other community values.


Historic Landmark recommendation (gold standard)

Eight-story brick building with detailed stonework, on corner downtown Portland
The Sovereign Hotel, a 1921 Historic Landmark built by architect Carl Linde. Photo: Sally Painter.

A Historic Landmark is a structure, building, portion of a building, site, tree, statue, sign, or other object or space that the City has designated for its special archaeological, architectural, cultural, or historical merit. Historic Landmarks include resources listed by the federal Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places before January 2017.

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition Review (Type IV)

  • Design Regulations: Historic Resource Review

  • Special Use Incentives: All

  • Listed by: Either the Historic Landmarks Commission or City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Removed by: Either the Historic Landmarks Commission or City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Number as of September 2020: 725


Conservation Landmark recommendation (silver standard)

A house with steps leading up to the porch, and a green lawn
The Clarence E. Moulton House, a 1911 Conservation Landmark that has been converted into condominium housing. Photo: Addam Goard.

A Conservation Landmark is a structure, building, portion of a building, site, statue, sign, or other object or space that the City has designated for its special archaeological, architectural, cultural, or historical merit. 

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition Review (Type III)

  • Design Regulations: Choice between Historic Resource Review or Community Design Standards

  • Special Use Incentives: All

  • Listed by: Either the Historic Landmarks Commission or City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Removed by: Either the Historic Landmarks Commission or City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Number as of September 2020: 12


National Register Landmark recommendation (bronze standard)

Courtyard with wood bench beside white building with many windows
The Postal Employees Credit Union, a 1962 mid-century modern bank building nominated to the National Register in 2020. Photo: Sally Painter.

A National Register Landmark is a structure, object or, site that was listed by the federal Keeper of the National Register and has not been identified by the City as a Historic Landmark or Conservation Landmark. The National Register Landmark type is new to the zoning code and includes all individual properties listed in the National Register since January 2017.

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition Review (Type III)

  • Design Regulations: None

  • Special Use Incentives: None

  • Listed by: National Park Service

  • Removed by: National Park Service

  • Number as of September 2020: 10


Historic District recommendation (gold standard)

tall white and gray columnar building with vertical rows of windows
The Weatherly Building, a 1928 contributing resource in the East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District.

A Historic District is a geographic area that the City has designated for its archaeological, architectural, cultural, or historical merit. Historic Districts include resources listed by the federal Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places before January 2017.

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition Review for contributing resources (Type IV; none for most accessory structures

  • Design Regulations: Historic Resource Review

  • Special Use Incentives: Many

  • Listed by: City Council, as recommended by the Planning and Sustainability Commission

  • Removed by: City Council, as recommended by the Planning and Sustainability Commission (following a joint hearing with the Historic Landmarks Commission)

  • Number as of September 2020: 17 (comprised of 3,751 contributing resources and 1,192 noncontributing resources)


Conservation District recommendation (silver standard)

Two-story brick building covered in ivy and with sign "White Eagle" mounted on front
The Hrszko Brothers Saloon, a 1906 contributing resource in the Russell Street Conservation District that is today known as the White Eagle Saloon.

A Conservation District is a geographic area that the City has designated for its special archaeological, architectural, cultural, or historical merit.

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition Review for contributing resources (Type III; none for most accessory structures)

  • Design Regulations: Choice between Historic Resource Review or Community Design Standards

  • Special Use Incentives: Some

  • Listed by: City Council, as recommended by the Planning and Sustainability Commission (following a joint hearing with the Historic Landmarks Commission)

  • Removed by: City Council, as recommended by the Planning and Sustainability Commission

  • Number as of September 2020: 6 (comprised of 2,208 contributing resources and 986 noncontributing resources)


National Register District recommendation (bronze standard)

Side of historic building with Spanish-style architecture
The 1910 contributing Gate #2 and 1911 noncontributing Markham House in the Laurelhurst National Register District.

A National Register District is a collection of properties that has been listed by the federal Keeper of the National Register of Historic and has not been designated as a Historic District or Conservation District. The National Register District type is new to the zoning code and includes all districts listed in the National Register since January 2017, including Laurelhurst, Peacock Lane and, if listed by the National Park Service in the future, Eastmoreland.

  • Demolition Regulations: Demolition review for contributing resources (Type III; none for most accessory structures)

  • Design Regulations: None

  • Special Use Incentives: None

  • Listed by: National Park Service

  • Removed by: National Park Service

  • Number as of September 2020: 3 (comprised of 1,340 contributing resources and 458 noncontributing resources)


Significant Resource recommendation (eligible standard)

Palms motor hotel sign with neon palm trees
The 1957 Palms Motor Hotel sign, a Significant Resource identified in the 1984 Historic Resource Inventory that has been determined eligible for a landmark designation.

A Significant Resource is a structure, building, portion of a building, site, statue, sign, district, or other object or space that the City has determined to be significant for its archaeological, architectural, cultural, or historical merit but has not been designated as a landmark or district. Rank I, II, III resources identified in the 1984 Historic Resource Inventory are Significant Resources.

  • Demolition Regulations: 120-day demolition delay

  • Design Regulations: None

  • Special Use Incentives: None

  • Listed by: City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Removed by: City Council, as recommended by the Historic Landmarks Commission

  • Number as of September 2020: 898


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