Historic Preservation Districts

Overview

Orlando has six Historic Preservation overlay districts with a variety of architectural styles. To establish these districts the Historic Preservation Board uses the following criteria:

  • Citizen involvement
  • Evaluation of the architectural significance of area buildings
  • Consideration of the neighborhood’s contributions to Orlando’s cultural heritage

The historic preservation districts are (indicates year added):

  • Downtown (1980)
  • Lake Cherokee (1981)
  • Lake Copeland (1984)
  • Lake Eola Heights (1989)
  • Lake Lawsona (1994)
  • Colonialtown South (2000)

Downtown

Photo of multi-story Kress building in downtown Orlando   The Downtown Historic District designation has helped preserve buildings that would otherwise be demolished due to the rapid rate of growth and demand for commercial space in the downtown. Designated in 1980, the buildings in the district date back to the 1880s. The boundaries of the district are East Jefferson Street on the north, Gertrude Avenue on the west, Church Street on the south, and Rosalind Avenue on the east. There are approximately eighty structures in the district.

Background

The Downtown Historic District was designated in 1980 as the City’s first local historic district. The district is a cohesive collection of buildings that reflects the commercial and governmental history of Orlando. It encompasses eight square blocks of approximately 80 buildings constructed from the 1880s until the early 1940s. Interspersed among modern skyscrapers, the historic buildings of this district offer a window to the city’s dynamic past.

The variety of building styles and sizes reflects the history of architecture and construction during that period. Most of the earliest buildings are characteristic of the late Victorian era with decorative brick detailing and cornices. The Elijah Hand Building (1905) at 15-17 West Pine Street is one of the most intact examples from this period. Into the 1920s, classical and Mediterranean elements dominated the buildings of downtown. Also, construction of taller buildings such as the Angebilt Hotel (1923-24) at 37 North Orange Avenue and the Metcalf Building (1924), at 100 South Orange Avenue, was possible due to the advent of more affordable and reliable elevators. From the late 1920s until the 1940s, several buildings were constructed in the modernistic streamlined styles. The Kress Building (1935), at 15-17 West Church Street, is an excellent example of the Art Deco style.

In 1982, most of the district was specially certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for the purpose of allowing property owners to pursue the Federal Investment Tax Credit. Several individual buildings have also been included on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the Rogers Kiene Building (1886) located at 37-39 South Magnolia Avenue, the Old Orlando Railroad Depot (1889) at 76-78 West Church Street and the Tinker Building (1925) at 18 West Pine Street.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make any exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board.

Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure, such as signs, paint color, and repair with matching materials, can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

Incentives

The City recognizes the importance of offering incentives to businesses choosing to locate and rehabilitate buildings in the Downtown Historic District. Two preservation incentives, a federal tax credit andproperty tax exemption, are currently offered for historic properties in the district.

The owner of a building located in the certified portion of the district may qualify for the Federal Investment Tax Credit for the rehabilitation of a historic commercial building contributing to the district. The credit is based on 20% of the qualified expenditures necessary for the substantial rehabilitation of a commercial certified historic building. Many downtown property owners have taken advantage of this credit in the past. For more information on this program, contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

In 1994, the City adopted a property tax exemption for the substantial rehabilitation of locally designated historic property. The 10 year exemption applies to 100-percent of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption remains intact with the sale of property.

Information

For further information regarding the Downtown Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416.

Permitting, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Online Downtown Historic Walking Tour (Mobile Friendly)
Printable map of Downtown
Historic District (PDF)
Downtown Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
Downtown Historic Walking Tour (PDF)
2002 HPB Calendar Showcasing Downtown Historic District (PDF)

Lake Cherokee Historic District

Of the 189 buildings in the Lake Cherokee Historic District, 160 are contributing structures. The Lake Cherokee neighborhood is bounded by: the East-West Expressway on the north; Summerlin Avenue on the east; Orange Avenue on the west; and Cherokee Drive, Euclid Avenue, Delaney Avenue and Gore Street on the south. In July 1981, the Lake Cherokee area became Orlando’s second locally designated historic district.

Background

Designated a local historic district in 1981, the Lake Cherokee Historic District consists of 16 square blocks of residences and two schools. Building activity around the lake, formerly known as Lake Minnie, began in the late 1870s. Five 1880s homes along the west shoreline were built by newlyweds. The small enclave became known as “Honeymoon Row.”

A number of houses from the Victorian era remain in the district. Two homes from Honeymoon Row remain: the large Queen Anne style Poyntz-O’Neal House (1887) at 614 South Lake, and the Gunby House (1887) at 709 Euclid Avenue. Along with the eclectic Shingle/Neoclassical style Peleg Peckham-Dr. Phillips House (1893) at 135 North Lucerne Circle East, these homes offer an impressive representation of the early architecture of the City.

The first two decades of the 20th century are also well-represented by vernacular houses north of the lake. The house at 536 Lake Avenue is a traditional Southern form with a central hallway, a broad sweeping pyramidal roof and wraparound porch.

During the 1920s Florida land boom, a variety of architectural styles, including Craftsman style bungalows and Mediterranean, Tudor and Colonial Revivals, were constructed in the district. Some of the district’s distinctive homes were built in the bungalow style including those at Hovey’s Court (1913-19) at 545 Delaney Avenue. Its nine bungalows formerly served as guest cottages for visitors to the city. The bungalows have now been adaptively re-used as offices.

Cherokee School (1926) at 525 South Eola Avenue is the district’s most architecturally significant institution. The Mediterranean Revival School is highlighted by decorative and colorful terra cotta ornamentation. The building is still used as a public school.

From 1930 through the 1940s, Art Deco was popular. The streamlined Wellborn Apartments (1947) at 203 North Lucerne Circle East contrast with the traditional architecture of the district.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make any exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board.

Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure, such as painting, re-roofing and repair with matching materials can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that significantly impact a property, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

Incentives

The City has recognizes the importance of offering incentives to property owners choosing to rehabilitate buildings in the Lake Cherokee Historic District. Two preservation incentives are currently available for the contributing buildings in the district: a federal tax credit and a property tax exemption.

In 1982, the district was specially certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for the purpose of allowing property owners to pursue the Federal Investment Tax Credit. This certification may allow you to qualify for the credit for the rehabilitation of historic income producing buildings. The credit is based on 20% of the qualified expenditures necessary for the substantial rehabilitation of a certified historic property. For more information on this program, contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

The City also offers a property tax exemption to property owners for the substantial rehabilitation of contributing structures in the district. This 10 year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption period remains intact with the sale of the property.

Information

For further information regarding the Lake Cherokee Historic District or questions regarding modifications to structures or property within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416.

Permitting, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Printable map of Lake Cherokee Historic District (PDF)
Lake Cherokee District Ordinance (PDF)
2003 HPB Calendar Showcasing Lake Cherokee Historic District (PDF)

Lake Copeland Historic District

The Lake Copeland Historic Neighborhood, located just south of Downtown, is one of the City’s older residential neighborhoods filled with a mixture of architectural styles such as Colonial, Mediterranean, and Tudor Revival style houses. Many Bungalows and Minimal Traditional forms can also be found among the approximately 100 residences. Celebrated local architects, including James Gamble Rogers II, designed many of the City’s fine homes in this neighborhood during the early 20th century.

Background

The Lake Copeland Historic District was designated as a local historic district in 1984 and contains approximately 110 residences. Located east of Orange Avenue and south of Gore Street, the neighborhood initially attracted residents desirous of living away from Orlando’s burgeoning downtown. By the Great Depression, the area was almost entirely developed. The oldest remaining home in the district is the McRae-Raehn House (1880s) located at 414 East Miller Street. The structure was originally a farmhouse for the property that was bounded by Kaley, Orange, Briercliff, and Fern Creek.

Most of the houses in the district represent a wide variety of styles from the first half of the 20th century. Popular influences of that era include the Colonial, Mediterranean, and Tudor Revival styles, as well as the Bungalow and Minimal Traditional forms. The arrival of the 1920s saw construction of many of the neighborhood’s most magnificent homes, including the S.J. Sligh House (1925) at 239 East Copeland Drive. Built for the wealthy citrus magnate at a then-staggering sum of $25,000, it is among Orlando’s most distinctive homes and is a textbook example of Neoclassical Revival.

Celebrated local architects, including James Gamble Rogers II, designed many of the City’s finest homes during the early part of the century. Rogers left his mark on the Lake Copeland Historic District with his design of the Claybaugh House (1927). Located at 205 East Copeland, its tiled roof of varying pitches, decorative windows, and mock bell tower create a charming variation of the Mediterranean Revival style.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make certain exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board. Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure, such as re-roofing and repair with matching materials can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

There are exceptions to these requirements. Approval does not have to be obtained for any alteration which does not require a building permit from the City; alterations to any structure built after January 1, 1940; paint and roof color; alterations to exterior features which are not subject to view from one or more public streets or parks; signs not greater than one square foot in area; and emergency repair that will not change the exterior design.

Incentives

The City offers a property tax exemption to property owners for the substantial rehabilitation of locally designated historic property. This 10-year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption remains intact with the sale of the property.

Information

For further information regarding the Lake Copeland Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures or property within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416. The Office of Permitting Services, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Printable map of the Lake Copeland Historic District (PDF)
Lake Copeland Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
2009 HPB Calendar Showcasing Lake Copeland Historic District (PDF)

Lake Eola Heights Historic District

The Lake Eola Heights Historic District was created in 1989. There are approximately 570 buildings in Eola Heights. This is one of Orlando’s oldest and most architecturally diverse neighborhoods. In the late 1800s, Mr. Summerlin purchased two hundred acres around Lake Eola. Much of the area had been planted for citrus groves in the late nineteenth century; however, following the big freeze in 1895, the area was subdivided for residential development. Vernacular clapboard farmhouses, built between 1890 and 1911, are scattered throughout the neighborhood. Other styles include Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Mediterranean Revival, Mission Revival, Art Deco, and Minimal Traditional.

Background

In 1989, Lake Eola Heights was designated a local historic district. Three years later it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Spanning approximately 38 blocks, the area offers an eclectic mix of architectural styles among its tree-lined brick streets.

Citrus was grown in the area north of Lake Eola until the freezes of 1894-1895 devastated the groves. The district’s greatest period of growth, 1905-1925, saw the construction of homes, educational and religious institutions, as well as a smattering of commercial buildings to house and serve residents of the growing city.

Several architectural styles inspired the design of the residential structures in the district. Examples of the Craftsman style, frame vernacular, Mediterranean Revival, and Colonial Revival can all be found along the district’s grid streets. Two outstanding examples include the Craftsman style house at 421 East Amelia Street (1923) with its full width front porch and the Mediterranean Revival Atha Apartments (1920), located at 411-415 East Livingston Street.

Neighborhood religious buildings add their own distinctive style to the district. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (1926), at 123 East Livingston Street, exhibits Gothic Revival design and form. The Broadway United Methodist Church (1922), at 406 East Amelia Street, reflects the Neoclassical Revival style. The St. James Cathedral School (1928), at 505 Ridgewood Street, is one of several Mediterranean Revival schools built in Orlando in the 1920s and is one of the best examples with its bell tower, ornate entrance, and embellished friezes.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make certain exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board.

Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure such as re-roofing, fences and gates, awnings, signs, and repair with matching materials, can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days.

Major modifications that significantly impact a property in the district, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

There are exceptions to these requirements. Approval does not have to be obtained for landscaping, paint color, emergency repair that will not change the exterior design, and the alteration of patios and walkways not subject to public view. Chain-link fences are not permitted in the front yard nor within the side yard setback.

Incentives

The City has recognized the importance of offering incentives to property owners choosing to rehabilitate buildings in the Lake Eola Heights Historic District. Two preservation incentives are currently offered for contributing structures in the district—a federal tax credit for commercial properties and a property tax exemption.

The Federal Investment Tax Credit is available as a result of the district’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. This certification may allow you to qualify for the federal Investment Tax Credit for the rehabilitation of historic income producing buildings. The credit is based on 20% of the qualified expenditures necessary for the substantial rehabilitation of certified historic property. For more information on this program, contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

The second is a property tax exemption adopted by the City in 1994 for the substantial rehabilitation of locally designated historic property. The 10-year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption remains intact with the sale of the property.

Information

For further information regarding the Lake Eola Heights Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures or property within the area, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416. The Office of Permitting Services, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Printable map of Lake Eola Heights Historic District (PDF)
Lake Eola Heights Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
2005 HPB Calendar Showcasing Lake Eola Heights Historic District (PDF)

Lake Lawsona Historic District

The Lake Lawsona Historic District contains approximately 500 buildings that date back from 1911 to the 1950s. The Lake Lawsona Historic District represents a diverse mix of structures that represent a window into the development patterns of Orlando during this time.

Background

Encompassing the neighborhoods of Lawsona/Fern Creek and Thornton Park, the Lake Lawsona Historic District was established in 1994 as a local historic district. Platted and developed between 1911 and the 1950s, the district contains approximately 500 buildings and is illustrative of the growth patterns of the city in the first half of this century with its mix of residential, educational and commercial structures.

A variety of architectural styles and forms can be found in the district including bungalows, Craftsman, Minimal Traditional and Colonial, Mediterranean, Mission, Neoclassical, and Tudor revivals. Bungalows are the predominant contributing structures in the district.

Three sites within the Lake Lawsona Historic District have been recognized as local historic landmarks. They are H.H. Dickson Azalea Park (1935), the Washington Street Bridge (1926) and Orlando High School, now Howard Middle School (1927).

Dickson Azalea Park is named for a city beautification advocate and co-founder of one of Orlando’s earliest department stores, Dickson-Ives. The park consists of five acres of lush vegetation through which Fern Creek flows. Rustic stairs and walls direct the visitor through the park and out of the ravine. Above the creek’s embankment is the Girl Scout Little House (1940) at 119 North Celia Lane, which has served as a clubhouse for more than half a century. Just south of the Girl Scout Little House is the Beaux Arts-influenced Washington Street Bridge which traverses the park and Fern Creek.

The Neoclassical Revival Orlando High School is located at 800 East Robinson Street. The last class graduated in 1952 when Boone and Edgewater high schools opened. Distinguished alumni include astronaut John Young, former Orlando mayor Carl T. Langford, actor Buddy Ebsen, and Nobel Prize winner for medicine, Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make certain exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board. Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure such as re-roofing, fences, paving, and repair with matching materials can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property in the district, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

There are exceptions to these requirements. Approval does not have to be obtained for landscaping; any change to the exterior that is not subject to view from one or more public streets, parks or lakes; color; and emergency repair that will not change the exterior design. In addition, chain link fences may not be installed where they are visible from the street, parks or lakes.

Incentives

The City takes an active role in preserving the architectural heritage of the Lake Lawsona Historic District and offers a property tax exemption for contributing buildings in the district. The property tax exemption is to encourage property owners to substantially rehabilitate contributing structures in the district. This 10-year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption period remains intact with the sale of the property.

Information

For further information regarding the Lake Lawsona Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures or property within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416. The Office of Permitting Services, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Printable map of the Lake Lawsona Historic District (PDF)
Lake Lawsona Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
2008 HPB Calendar Showcasing Lake Lawsona Historic District (PDF)

Colonialtown South

Background

Colonialtown South, which was designated a local Historic District in 2000, is generally located south of Hillcrest Street, north of East Robinson Street, East of Shine Avenue and West of Hampton Street. The neighborhood developed over six decades through a series of real estate booms and busts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The earliest subdivision was platted in the area in 1883, but the largest was developed and promoted by Carl Dann in 1913. Dann was a prominent developer who platted some sixty subdivisions in Orange County, including parts of College Park, Dubsdread, Lake Lawsona, and Lake Eola Heights.

In Colonialtown South, the majority of residential construction occurred during the 1920s Florida Land Boom. Houses generally were small- to medium-sized structures that were common for the middle class. The neighborhood experienced a second period of growth between the Depression and the start of World War II. The houses during this time were even smaller due to the financial constraints of the period. This neighborhood exemplifies these two periods of development. Colonialtown South is one of the most intact neighborhoods in the City that represents the final years of a traditional development pattern. This type of development, which occurred over many years, was typical until GIs returning home from World War II created such a demand for new housing that large suburban neighborhoods began to be built all at once. These new housing developments were most often built by one single builder for resale.

The Colonialtown South neighborhood contains a distinctive collection of historic buildings, a majority of which display formal styling. The presence of buildings constructed in the popular styles of the day, indicates awareness by residents and builders of the significance of erecting buildings that reflected specific historical and modern associations. Certain styles, including the Bungalow and the Minimal Traditional were thoroughly modern concepts in their eras. Local builders and architects took design cues from the most advanced designers of their day and concocted designs that were appropriate for the Central Florida climate. Builders and architects also looked back into history when creating Colonial Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Mission, Prairie, and Tudor Revival houses for their clients in Colonialtown South.

The subdivision layouts, brick streets, street trees, and buildings of Colonialtown South are all physical reminders of the cultural, economic, social, and historic heritage of the City of Orlando.

Permitting Requirements

Before you make certain exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board.

Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure such as re-roofing, fences, paving, and repair with matching materials can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property in the district, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.

There are exceptions to these requirements. Approval does not have to be obtained for landscaping; any change to the exterior that is not subject to view from one or more public streets or parks; paint color, roof color; and emergency repair that will not change the exterior design.

Incentives

The City takes an active role in preserving the architectural heritage of the Colonialtown South Historic District and offers a property tax exemption for contributing buildings in the district. The City offers a property tax exemption to property owners for the substantial rehabilitation of contributing structures in the district. This 10-year exemption applies to 100% of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption period remains intact with the sale of the property.

Information

For further information regarding the Colonialtown South Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures or property within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416. The Office of Permitting Services, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.

Printable map of the Colonialtown South Historic District (PDF)
Colonialtown South Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
2001 HPB Calendar Showcasing Colonialtown South Historic District (PDF)