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Historic District

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The Town’s Historic District is one of the largest in the State of Colorado and is a defining element of Breckenridge’s identity. Breckenridge was originally a mining town that provided services for the very productive Mining District that surrounded it. While most of the historically significant buildings are from the Victorian Age, Breckenridge never had the detailed ornamentation usually associated with the architecture typical of that period. To find out more about our history, see the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance website. To find out more about the Historic District and how we regulate construction within its boundaries, follow the links in the narrative below.

Here's an informative article on historic home remodeling from the Denver Post.

The Historic District contains the greatest concentration of historic buildings in the community ranging from the early settlement phase to the late Victorian phase of the town’s history. The goal of the Historic District program is to protect our historic character through the careful preservation of our historic structures and the sensitive design of new buildings in their context. New construction and changes to existing buildings in the Historic and Conservation District are subject to review under the “Handbook of Design Standards for the Historic and Conservation Districts”.

Short History:
Breckenridge’s National Register Historic District was formed in 1980. In 1992, the Town adopted the “Handbook of Design Standards for the Historic and Conservation Districts” to establish design standards for all new construction and renovation of existing structures. At the same time, the “Handbook of Design Standards for the Transition Character Areas of the Conservation District” were written, but not adopted until March 27, 2012. These standards are intended to protect the character of those areas immediately surrounding, but outside of, the Historic District.

In order to protect the historic character of the Town, we have adopted a limit of 9 units per acre (UPA) of above-ground density in much of the Historic District. We have also been designated a Certified Local Government (CLG) by the State of Colorado.

Recent Accomplishments:
North Main Street Park: The Town purchased two vacant lots at 112 North Main Street (between The Local Market and Alpine Bank) in 2013. The plans include a playground, picnic tables, seating, grassy to allow for summer and winter programming, and public art. The park will provide handicap accessible access from Main Street to the Edwin Carter Museum to the east. The Council approved the project May 13, 2014, with construction started in the summer 2014. Construction will continue during the summer of 2015.

Masonic Hall: The Town purchased the building at 136 South Main Street, the historic Arbogast Building (aka Abby Hall) and plans a restoration, rehabilitation and remodel of the historic building and small addition at the back of the property. Based on surviving historic photographs, a restoration of the main level original store front is proposed. The small addition at the back of the building is being replaced and the overall property improved for inclusion into the Town's growing Arts District.

Historic Connector Element Policy Modification: The connector link policy in the Handbook of Design Standards for the Historic and Conservation Districts was modified to address concerns over recent projects in the historic district which featured one large overall massing. One large overall mass does not meet the intent of the distinct and separate module size policies an is out of character with the surviving historic structures in the District. Maintaining the distinction between the modules is important to the character of the District, ensuring that building masses do not creep up in size and overwhelm the small scale historic building character of the area. The modification includes a limit of one story height connector elements, a minimum 6 foot length and a simple design. The modification was adopted by ordinance on March 25, 2014.

Temporary Structures Policy (Section 9-1-19-36): The Town Council adopted modifications to the Temporary Structures Policy April 8, 2014, which include prohibiting temporary structures within the Conservation District (unless associated with a special event); clarifying language to allow seasonal noncommercial greenhouses in the Conservation District; and moving the provision for "construction trailers" to Policy 29, Construction Activities.

Moving Historic Secondary Structures: The locations of historic secondary structures affect our ability to understand the history and significance of a building or site. But moving historic secondary structures can sometimes facilitate new development and ensure that primary and secondary structures are preserved and restored.

Historic Preservation Incentives: In order to encourage the preservation, restoration and maintenance of historic structures, the Town has developed a series of incentives for property owners. These include free basement density for restored landmarked structures, reduced application fees, positive points under our performance zoning system, and reduced setbacks for restoration of historic sheds.

Solar Panels: The Town currently has an adopted policy on the design and location of solar panels within the Conservation District, but some changes may be needed to improve the current policy. Staff will present ideas to the Planning Commission and Town Council on changes that could be made to this policy to protect our historic character while allowing for the use of renewable energy.

Footprint Lots: The Town has also adopted new development standards for Footprint Lots, which require that new development at the rear of a lot use designs similar to historic outbuildings, such as barns and sheds. Key design features include small building size, simpler building shape and roof forms, less ornamentation, and stained or unpainted siding.

Transition Standards: The Breckenridge Conservation District is an area surrounding the Historic District, where new development has the potential to impact the neighboring Historic District. The Town recently adopted the "Handbook of Design Standards for the Transition Standards for the Conservation District". These standards address the required architecture, materials, building form, solid-to-void ratios, site planning and landscaping for new construction within this area of town.

For more information on upcoming projects, please contact a planner via email or at (970) 453-3160.

Additional Information:
Land Use Guidelines
Title 9, Chapter 1 of the Breckenridge Town Code
Historic & Conservation District Map
Historic Character Areas Map

Handbook of Design Standards for the Historic and Conservation Districts
Historic Character Area 1
Historic Character Area 2
Historic Character Area 3
Historic Character Area 4
Historic Character Area 5
Historic Character Area 6
Historic Character Area 7

Contact Us:
For more information on the Historic District or for permits to construct, remodel or alter any building within the Historic or Conservation District, please call (970) 453-3160 to speak with a planner. For information on historic walking tours, historic museums and other historic sites open to the public, please contact the Breckenridge Heritage Alliance at (970) 453-9767.

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