Historic Preservation in the City of Norman
The Norman Historic District Commission serves as the City Council’s official historic preservation advisory body to identify, protect, and educate the public about Norman’s historic resources.
The City of Norman adopted the Historic District Ordinance in 1993 to preserve and protect our local history and culture. The purpose of the Historic District Ordinance is to:
- Safeguard the heritage of the City by preserving and regulating historic landmarks and districts which reflect elements of its cultural, social, political, and architectural history
- Preserve and enhance the environmental quality of the neighborhoods
- Strengthen the City’s economic base by stimulation of conservation and reuse
- Establish and preserve property values
- Ensure the harmonious, orderly, and efficient growth and development of the municipality
- Promote the use of historic landmarks and districts for the culture, prosperity, education, and welfare of the people of the City and visitors to the City
The City of Norman has designated three Historic Districts which are under the purview of the Historic District Commission. The Commission reviews proposed alterations to structures and properties located within designated Historic Districts. If Commission finds that proposed work meets the Historic Preservation Guidelines, then they will approve the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness which allows for work to commence once required building permits are obtained.
Revision of Historic Preservation Guidelines
Chautauqua Historic District
The Chautauqua Historic District was established in 1995. It encompasses an area roughly bounded by Symmes Street on the north, Brooks Street on the south, Chautauqua Avenue on the east and Lahoma Avenue on the west.
The Chautauqua Historic District is made up of approximately 153 residential structures. Most of these homes were built in the period between 1915 and 1935, with the majority of the development occurring in the 1920’s. The architecture and environment of the Chautauqua District represents a unique time period in Norman’s history. Stately residences reflect the character of the university deans, faculty, and other prominent individuals who assisted in the development of the City. The mature trees, which line the streets, reveal Norman’s dedication to turn a town on the prairie into a garden setting. In this six-block area almost every architectural style prevalent during the first quarter of the 20th century is represented. It is this variety, which also characterizes the heritage of Norman and western settlement, that is significant in the district.
Miller Historic District
The Miller Historic District (Drop down menu)
The Miller Historic District was established in 1997. Its area is roughly bounded by Symmes Street on the north, Classen Avenue on the east and Miller Avenue running northwest to southeast.
Comprised of approximately 148 structures, the Miller Historic District is predominately a residential area as well. Part of the Classen-Miller Addition which was originally platted in 1903, the area did not become fully developed until a growth spurt doubled the size of Norman following World War I. Convenient to the business district, the railroad, and the University, the area developed into a neighborhood for faculty members and business leaders. Thus the historical significance of the Miller District is two-fold: the district is significant for the role it played in the urban development of the City of Norman, and it is architecturally significant for its excellent collection of eclectic residential architecture built between 1910 and 1938. The Bungalow, a nationally popular subtype of the Craftsman style, represents the predominate architecture of the District. The majority of these homes were built in the 1920’s.
Southridge Historic District
The Southridge Historic District was established on October 11, 2016, and expanded on June 26, 2018. It encompasses an area roughly bounded by Macy Street on the north, Shawnee Street on the south, Classen Boulevard on the west and Oklahoma Avenue on the east. The Southridge Historic District is comprised of 120 properties and Earl Sneed Park. The Southridge neighborhood was platted in 1922 with the majority of development occurring between the 1920s and 1950. The dominant architectural styles in Southridge Neighborhood are Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival, which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s across Oklahoma. Convenient to the University of Oklahoma and downtown business district, the Southridge neighborhood attracted many notable citizens of Norman and the University of Oklahoma. Today Southridge continues to be a vibrant residential neighborhood with charming historic character.
Historic District Commission
The Historic District Commission is comprised of nine members, five of whom must reside or own property in one of the three Historic Districts. Three members must have a technical background such as architecture, and three must have a professional background such as lawyer or real estate agent. The Commission reviews historic district requests for "Certificates of Appropriateness" at their meeting held the 1st Monday of each month, 5:30 p.m., Municipal Building "A," 201 West Gray. (meeting sites subject to change).
Historic Preservation FAQ
What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is a certificate of approval for repairs or changes to the exterior of a residence in the Historic District as determined by the Historic District Commission or Historic Preservation Officer.
What types of work require a Certificate of Appropriateness?
In general, any outside work which would result in a change to the exterior appearance of the structure or site, requires a Certificate of Appropriateness.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Projects deemed "ordinary maintenance and repair" do not require a Certificate of Appropriateness. This includes re-roofing with identical materials, painting non-masonry surfaces, replacing deteriorated exterior features with identical materials, and landscape maintenance.
Do paint colors require Commission review?
No. However property owners are encouraged to consider the style of the structure when selecting paint colors.
Do interior alterations require a Certificate of Appropriateness?
No. The interiors of individual structures are not governed by the Historic District Ordinance. However, ordinary building permit requirements must still be followed.
Do demolitions require a Certificate of Appropriateness?
Yes. Demolition can permanently alter the character of historic structures and may have a significant impact to the remaining structures and surrounding areas.
Where can I seek help?
Preservation Guidelines for the Historic Districts are available to download and City staff is available to assist you throughout the process. If you have any questions about Norman’s Historic Districts or would like additional information about the City’s Historic District Ordinance, please contact Anaïs Starr in the Planning and Community Development Department at 366-5392.
How do I apply for a Certificate of Appropriateness?
- The Historic District Commission meets the first Monday of every month. The filing deadline is 24 days prior to the meeting date. Application forms are available here. For assistance please call (405) 366-5392.
- An application must generally include photographs of the property, a copy of the deed, a plot plan, building plans & specifications, and the names and addresses of property owners within the proximity. A $75.00 application fee is required. Applications and fee may be mailed to Anais Starr at 201 W Gray Street, Norman, OK 73070, or dropped off in person at Building A of the same address.
- The reviews take place during the regularly scheduled meetings. of which the applicant is required to attend. All meetings are open to the public. The Commission will vote as to whether each application is to be approved or rejected. The Commission may recommend changes and suggest alternative materials and details. In some cases the Commission will request that the plans be amended in some way.
- If approved, the Certificate of Appropriateness will be forwarded for inclusion in the building permit application. A ten-day waiting period is imposed before work can begin.
- If rejected, the applicant may submit a revised proposal or appeal the Commission’s decision directly to the City Council.
- Certain projects, including such items as fencing, storm windows, and small storage buildings may be approved by City staff without going through the formal review process. For eligible projects of this type, the filing fee is waived.
What are the guidelines the Historic District Comission uses to make decisions?
The Historic District Commission Guidelines are currently in the process of being updated however the current guidelines can be downloaded here.
This handbook is intended to assist property owners in planning projects which will alter the exterior of their property and therefore impact the overall character and integrity of the historic districts. The Norman Historic Preservation Handbook is designed to assist everyone with a stake in preserving Norman’s historic districts. For property owners, residents, and contractors, the Preservation Handbook provides clear guidance in planning
projects that are sympathetic to the special character of Norman’s historic districts. For Historic District Commissioners and City staff, the Preservation Handbook offers guidelines by which to evaluate proposed
changes to historic structures. In reviewing applications, the Commission and staff consider the property itself, the property’s setting and context, and the special character of the entire historic district. Finally, the Preservation Handbook is an essential tool in helping the Commission fulfill its mission to preserve, protect, and educate the public through the application of consistent policy and procedures.