The Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC) is the regulatory agency responsible for ensuring the preservation of historically significant buildings, structures, sites, objects, interiors and districts in the City of Philadelphia. It was created by City Council ordinance in 1955 and reorganized in 1985 under Section 14-2007 of the Philadelphia Code.
The PHC identifies and designates historic resources, then lists them on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. That Register now includes more than 20,000 historic properties . Some properties may also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- To determine if a property is listed on the Philadelphia Register, contact the Philadelphia Historical Commission.
- To determine if a property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, contact The State Historic Preservation Office
The PHC regulates preservation through the City’s building permit review process. Any work on historic property that requires a building permit or changes the exterior appearance of the building, site, or permanent site features at the historic property must first have the approval of the Historical Commission. This applies to the entire exterior of the building, but does not apply to the interior of the building unless the interior was designated as an historic property after January 1, 2010.
The Department of Licenses and Inspections will not issue a permit regarding historic property without first having the Historical Commission’s approval. Instead, it refers all building and demolition permit applications for properties listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places to the PHC for its review and approval.
The PHC staff generally approves permit applications upon receipt or within a few days of submission. When the scope of work exceeds the staff’s jurisdiction (as defined in Section 6.3.c.1 of the Commission’s Rules & Regulations, it refers the application to the Architectural Committee and Historical Commission to be reviewed at its monthly meetings. That Commission is required to act on permit applications within 60 days. If it does not, the application is deemed approved.
All applications must comply with the Commission’s Rules & Regulations, which are outlined in the document titled Submission Requirements and Meeting Dates.
Submission Requirements and Meeting Dates
Building Permit Application The Philadelphia Historical Commission welcomes consultation with applicants before the formal filing of a permit application, and is also available to public inquiries. The Commission’s staff can:
- Provide technical information about the preservation and conservation of historic properties and building materials.
- Answer questions about the practices and procedures of the Historical Commission.
- Offer information about federal and state preservation legislation and the federal investment tax credit for the restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings.