The Cambridge Historical Commission, a department of the City of Cambridge, was established in 1963 to administer the city’s historic districts, to survey Cambridge’s architecture and publish its findings, and to research and mark historic sites. Since then, its mission has expanded. Commission staff now administer two historic and five neighborhood conservation districts, as well as twenty-two city landmarks, and thirty-seven properties covered by preservation easements. The Commission also reviews demolition permit applications for all structures over fifty years old.
The Commission maintains a public archive of the city’s architectural and social history; staff members present informational and educational programs to local schools, organizations, and community groups. Preservation grants and institutional preservation grants are offered to low- and moderate-income home-owners and to non-profit institutions; technical assistance on preservation issues is provided; historic paint color consultations are available; and an active publication program is maintained. The Commission is responsible for the restoration of some historic public areas, such as Longfellow Park and the Revolutionary-era Fort Washington. Historic and neighborhood conservation district commissions meet monthly, with agendas and meeting notices posted in the Commission and City Clerk’s offices, and published in the Cambridge Chronicle. At the commission hearings, the commissions review applications to alter designated historic properties and conduct other business as required.