Historic Preservation, Landmarks and Overlay Districts


On September 20, 2018, the Landmarks Commission finalized its recommendations for revisions to the Landmarks Ordinance. The Metro Council has formed the Landmarks Ad Hoc Committee consider the Landmarks Ordinance Revisions recommended by the Louisville Metro Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission.

Click here to view a presentation on recommended ordinance revisions. 

Click here to view the recommended ordinance revisions in their entirety.

Click here to view an economic hardship exemption and guideline to demolition document.

The Planning and Design Services Urban Design team is responsible for:

  • Oversight of exterior alterations for the Landmarks Commission, Downtown Development Review Overlay and Bardstown Road Overlay District
  • Issuing Certificates of Appropriateness and Overlay Permits either at staff or committee level
  • Preparing designation reports for local landmarks and preservation districts that are considered for demolition or other causes
​If your property lies within a local preservation or overlay district, please consult with our staff and complete an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) and Overlay District permit BEFORE making any changes/renovations to the exterior of your property. You can also view these User Guides (COA and Overlay District), which will walk you through these processes. Please call us at 574-6230 with any questions. 
All exterior work on a landmarked building, a building in a local preservation district, or building in an overlay district includes all sides of the building, the yard, streetscape, and/or street and alley public rights-of-way. If work is done without a COA, the property owner could face fines, penalties or a stop work order. We encourage property owners to consult with staff on making sure changes/renovations are within design guidlines of the local preservation/overlay district. 
In Louisville, we have 7 local preservation districts, 3 overlay districts and 96 landmarked buildings. 

Overlay Districts
Overlay Districts are intended to promote compatibility of development with existing land use and design features. Within designated areas, proposed developments and physical changes to the exterior of a building are reviewed in accordance with established principles and guidelines addressing urban design elements.
Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts 
Louisville Metro's local preservation districts and individual landmarks designations recognize, preserve, and protect the city's significant historic and architectural resources for the entire community. The designation establishes a local oversight process for design review of all exterior alterations, demolition, and new construction. This review process is conducted by the Landmarks Commission staff and the Architectural Review Committees. 

Design Guidelines
Projects that propose exterior alterations to buildings that are landmarks or are located within designated local preservation districts are evaluated by Architectural Review Committees (ARC) and staff in accordance with design guidelines. Design guidelines are intended to serve as a reference and a resource for property owners, clarifying in advance what is expected. The ARC or staff determines the appropriateness of a project after reviewing all applicable guidelines. The goal is to strike a balance that best serves both the resource and the owner. There is no scoring or minimum number of guidelines to be met. Design guidelines provide an overview of the distinctive characteristics of each district and individual landmark and the statement of principles and standards governing exterior alterations to structures or properties of each district and landmarks. The guidelines do not dictate styles or specific design motifs. Instead, they suggest a choice of approaches for achieving design compatibility.

These guidelines can be found below:

For more information on design guidelines, please see Historic Louisville: Preservation Districts and Local Landmarks

Need more information on local preservation districts? Please refer to the links below. 

To view all Louisville Metro Codes of Ordinances related to Historic Preservation and the Landmarks Commission please click here and view Chapter 32.250 to 32.263

Related Links