So you want to put zebra striped vinyl siding on your house and it's in the Hopedale Village National
    Register District?  The good news is, yes, you can.  The bad news is, yes, you can.  The following is
    from a pamphlet put out by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.                              

                                                                     There's a Difference!

    There are substantial differences between a Local Historic District and a National Register District.  
    This brochure has been prepared by the Massachusetts Historical Commission to help clarify these

                                                                   National Register Districts

    A National Register District is part of the National Register of Historic Places.  The National Register of
    Historic Places is the list of individual buildings, sites, structures and objects, as well as districts,
    deemed important in American history, culture, architecture or archaeology.  It is a federal designation
    and is administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the Massachusetts Historical Commission
    as the State Historic Preservation Office.

    Listing in the National Register:

    recognizes that the area is important to the history of the community, state or nation.
    allows the owners of income-producing properties certain federal tax incentives for rehabilitation.
    provides limited protection from adverse effects by federal or state involved projects.

    If there is no state or federal involvement in a project (such as federal licenses, permits or funding)
    and no pertinent local or regional regulations (such as a local historic district), then listing in the
    National Register of Historic Places does not limit an owner's handling of the property at all.

    There are over 900 National Register Districts in Massachusetts.

    The National Register of Historic Places, begun in 1966, promotes an appreciation of our diverse
    cultural heritage.  Communities with National Register Districts take great pride in this federal

    Note: A National Register District cannot be listed if a majority of the property owners submit notarized
    objections.  Every owner of record of private property has the opportunity to comment and/or object to
    the nomination, and has one vote regardless of whether they own a single property, multiple
    properties, or a portion of a property.

                                                                      Local Historic Districts

    In general, local historic districts are far more effective at preventing inappropriate changes than a
    National Register District.  In a local historic district, proposed changes to exterior architectural
    features visible from a public way are reviewed by a locally appointed Historic District Commission.  
    For instance, if a building addition was proposed in a local historic district, the property owner would
    submit an application to the Historic District Commission.  The Historic District Commission would
    hold a public hearing and make a determination on whether the new addition was appropriate.  If the
    addition was appropriate, the Historic District Commission would issue a Certificate, allowing the
    work to progress.  Many Historic District Commissions have prepared Historic District Guidelines that
    clarify how proposed projects should respect the existing historic character.

    Local Historic Districts in Massachusetts were first established on Beacon Hill and Nantucket in
    1955.  There are now over 200 local historic districts in Massachusetts.  Local Historic Districts have
    been very effective at saving historic structures, neighborhoods and villages from inappropriate
    alterations and demolition.

    Following the steps outlined in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 40C, Local Historic Districts are
    established by a two thirds majority city council or town meeting vote.

    By establishing a local historic district, a community recognizes the importance of its architectural
    heritage and how vulnerable it is to inappropriate alterations without this local regulation.

    Many proposed changes are exempt from review.  In a local historic district, there is no review of
    interior features.  In addition, a variety of exterior features are often exempt such as air conditioning
    units, storm doors, storm windows, paint color and temporary structures.  The decision on which
    features are exempt from review depends on how the local bylaw or ordinance is written and passed
    by your city council or town meeting vote.

    Can a property be designated as part of a National Register District and as a part of a Local Historic

    Yes, in this case property owners receive all the benefits from the federal listing and the assurance
    that the local law or ordinance will protect the historic area from inappropriate alteration.

    If my property is within a National Register District, will it eventually be designated a Local Historic
    District as well?

    Not necessarily.  An M.G.L. Chapter 40C Local Historic District is established only by a two thirds
    majority vote of your city council or town meeting.  It is a completely separate local process.

                                                            State Register of Historic Places

    Properties within Local Historic Districts and National Register Districts are automatically included on
    the State Register of Historic Places.

    Listing in the State Register:

    provides limited protection from adverse effects by state-involved projects.
    When available, provides owners of municipal or private non-profit properties opportunity to apply for
    50% matching state grants through the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund.

    William Francis Galvin
    Secretary of the Commonwealth

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