Litchfield’s Historic District was the first in Connecticut, approved by a special act of the General Assembly in 1959. The entire District, which includes more than 475 buildings, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A portion of the Borough is designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
The boundaries are shown on the map on this site. A more detailed map is available at the Town Hall. The Historic District designation mandates a review process in order prevent changes that are incongruous with the District’s historic and architectural character.
The eight members of the Litchfield Historic District Commission are volunteers appointed by the Borough Warden and Burgesses, and all live within the Borough of Litchfield. The Commission is responsible for protecting and preserving the character and integrity of the District.
The Commission’s jurisdiction is limited to the exterior features visible from a public way (even if hidden by trees or other plantings). Examples include, but are not limited to:, Outbuildings, fences, walls, light fixtures, windows, doors, siding, shutters, roofing, signs, utility structures, satellite dishes, driveways and parking areas.
State law prohibits the erection, alteration, or demolition of any such feature within the District until the Commission has issued a Certificate of Appropriateness. The Building Inspector will not issue a permit for a project in the District unless a Certificate has been issued.
State law empowers Historic District Commissions to enforce regulations through fines or court proceedings. Regulations can be found in the Connecticut General Statutes Section 7-147a et seq. and The Code of the Borough of Litchfield, Chapter 12, located at the Oliver Wolcott Library and the Litchfield Historical Society. These regulations are separate and apart from the Building Inspector and Planning and Zoning requirements.
Small changes are subject to the same process as larger ones, and the regulations do not make exception for alterations considered by an applicant to be temporary in nature.
Repairs, maintenance and replacements may not require a Certificate of Appropriateness if the end result exactly duplicates the original in all aspects, including design and materials. In such instances, a Waiver Certificate, available from the Commission during any meeting, is required.
CERTIFICATES OF APPROPRIATENESS
A Certificate of Appropriateness is required whether or not the proposed activity requires a building permit of demolition permit. If such permits are required, State Statute prohibits their issuance until a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued by the Historic District Commission. A Certificate of Appropriateness is required for all repairs or replacements in kind on the exterior of the structure.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Property owners are required to submit an application before any work has begun. Plans, sketches, photographs, plot plan, material details, size and placement specifications are helpful in the application process and may be required. Applications are available online or from the Litchfield Town Clerk or Building Inspector.
The Commission meets on the first and third Thursday of each month at 28 Russell Street (behind Flowers of Distinction). A yearly schedule may be obtained from the Town Clerk. Notices of meetings, including cancellations, are posted at the Town Clerk’s office at least 24 hours before each meeting.
Applicants may appear at any meeting for a Pre-Hearing to discuss: The need for an application; an initial presentation of work proposed; additional information required to complete the application; the scheduling of a public hearing; or any other pertinent items.
Commissioners are happy to assist applicants during the planning stages. Please submit a form with any questions regarding the application process or feel free to contact any member of the Commission. Written correspondence may be sent to the Borough of Litchfield, Historic District Commission, P.O. Box 913, Litchfield, CT 06759
HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION MEMBERS
Chair – Glenn Hillman (2021)
Vice Chair – Julia Metcalf (2020)
Clerk – Judith Acerbi, 2019
Regular Member – Robert D’Andrea, 2017
Regular Member – David Bernard, 2018
Alternate – (vacancy), 2016
Alternate – (vacancy), 2017
Alternate – (vacancy), 2018