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Below is a list of terms to know relating to Historic Preservation:


  • Adaptive Reuse – Refers to the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed for
  • Addition – New construction added to an existing building or structure.
  • Alteration – Any act or process requiring a building permit or demolition permit, or any act or process that changes one or more of the historic, cultural, architectural or archaeological features of an area, property, structure, site or object, including, but not limited to, the erection, construction, reconstruction or relocation of any property, structure or object, or any part of a property, structure or object, or land-altering activities.
    Antietam Overlay – a zoning overlay designed to protect the view shed of the Red Hill Area and the approaches to Antietam Battlefield. More Information
  • Appropriate – Especially suitable or compatible.


  • Certificate of Appropriateness – A certificate issued by the Commission indicating review and authorization of plans for alteration, construction, demolition or relocation of a landmark, or property, structure, site or object within a district.
  • Certified Local Government – The Certified Local Government program recognizes counties and municipalities that have made a special commitment to preservation. This commitment includes, but is not limited to, establishing a qualified historic preservation commission to designate and review historic properties. More Information
  • Compatible – In harmony with location, context, setting, and historic character.
  • Contemporary – Reflecting characteristics of the current period. Contemporary denotes characteristics that illustrate that a building, structure, or detail was constructed in the present or recent past.
  • Context Conceptual framework or physical surroundings for a building or site.
  • Contributing (Structure) – A classification applied to an area, property, structure, site or object within a district signifying that it contributes generally to the qualities that give the district historic, cultural, architectural or archaeological significance as embodied in the criteria for designating a district. An area, property, structure, site or object can be contributing even if it has been altered, as long as it maintains the character defined for the district.


  • Deed – a legal document that is signed and delivered, especially one regarding the ownership of property or legal rights. Deeds in Washington County can be researched through
  • Demolition by Neglect –  Allowing a building to fall into such a state of disrepair that it becomes necessary or desirable to demolish it. Property owners have been accused of permitting demolition by neglect on purpose, in order to save on rehabilitation costs.


  • Historic Advisory Council (HAC) – A Council created in 1967 which, today focuses on listing and reviewing updates to the historic resources in the County as well as sponsoring the John Frey Historic Preservation Award.
  • Historic District Commission (HDC) was created to administer permit review within historic zoning designations. 
  • Historic Integrity – The ability of a property to convey its significance; the retention of sufficient aspects of location, design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling, or association for a property to convey its historic significance.
  • Historic Material – Material from which the building was originally built.
  • Historic Preservation – According to the National Historic Preservation Act, includes identification, evaluation, recordation, documentation, curation, acquisition, protection, management, rehabilitation, restoration, stabilization, maintenance, research, interpretation, conservation, and education and training regarding the foregoing activities or a combination of the foregoing activities.
  • Historic Preservation Zoning (HP)  is a zoning overlay that was adopted in 1973 but it wasn’t until 1986 when a text and map amendment were completed that focused the district to keep exterior appearances of buildings intact. More Information
  • Historic Significance – Determines why, where, and when a property is important. Historic significance is the importance of a property with regard to history, architecture, engineering, or the culture of a state, community, or nation.


  • Integrity – Adherence to a high level of historical, architectural accuracy and relatively unchanged since originally constructed. The Secretary of Interior recognizes a property’s integrity through seven aspects or qualities: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.


  • Landmark – A property, structure, site or object designated as a “landmark” that has a high degree of historic, cultural, architectural or archaeological significance. All such designations include the lot(s) of record associated with the structure or object designated as a landmark.
  • Landmark (City of Hagerstown) – individual properties or structures located outside of the City’s Historic Districts that have been acknowledged by the City as worthy of recognition and preservation for the significance to history, architecture, archaeology or culture. Visit City of Hagerstown for More information.


  • Overlay Zone is a zoning district which is applied over one or more previously established zoning districts, establishing additional or stricter standards and criteria for covered properties in addition to those of the underlying zoning. Examples of overlay zones in Washington County include Historic Preservation, Rural Business and Antietam.


  • Period of Significance – The length of time when a property was associated with important events, activities, or person, or attained the characteristics that qualify it for National Register listing. Period of significance usually begins with a date when significant activities or events began giving the property its historic significance; this is often a date of construction.
  • Plat – a map or plan of an area of land showing actual or proposed features. Washington County Plats can be access at
  • Preservation – The act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Preservation can include the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.
  • Primary Façade – The front elevation of a structure, usually facing a street and containing the main entrance.


  • Reconstruction –  The act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its original appearance. Refurbish: To renovate, or make clean, fresh, or functional again through a process of major maintenance or minor repair.
  • Rehabilitation – The process of making possible a use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.
  • Renovate – To repair a structure and make it usable again. Although this word is widely accepted outside the preservation community, historic preservationists prefer to use the term “rehabilitate” since it incorporates careful retention of historic architectural, or cultural features.
  • Repair – Any change to an area, property, structure, site or object that is not alteration, construction, relocation or demolition.
  • Replication –  Constructing a building so that it is an exact replica or imitation of an historic architectural style or period.
  • Restore – The act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and construction of missing features from the restoration period.
  • Retain –  To keep secure and intact In the guidelines, “retain” and “maintain” describe the act of keeping an element, detail, or structure and continuing the same level of repair to aid in the preservation of elements, sites and structures.
  • Remodel – To change a building without regard to its distinctive features or style. Often involves changing the appearance of a structure by removing or covering original details and substituting new materials and forms.


  • Section 106 – Refers to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of l966, which requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their proposed activities on properties included, or eligible for inclusion, in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Section 4(f) – A provision in the Department of Transportation Act that prohibits federal approval or funding of transportation projects that require “use” of any historic site unless (1) there is “no feasible and prudent alternative to the project,” and (2) the project includes “all possible planning to minimize harm.”
  • State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) – an official within each state appointed by the governor to administer the state historic preservation program and carry out certain responsibilities relating to federal undertakings within the state.
  • Standards – Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation—Ten basic principles created to help preserve the distinctive character of a historic building and its site, while allowing for reasonable change to meet new needs and uses.

Washington County Administration Complex

100 West Washington Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Phone: 240-313-2430
Fax: 240-313-2431

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