Historic Preservation FAQs

Is my property located in a historic district?

Wake Forest has 4 historic districts, the Local Wake Forest Historic District, Glen Royall Mill Village National Register Historic District, the Wake Forest National Register Historic District, and the Downtown Wake Forest National Register Historic District.

The easiest way to determine if your property is located within one of these districts is to check the historic district map.

If your are still in doubt please contact the town staff.

What is the difference between a Local Historic District and a National Register Historic District?

A local historic district has been designated by the local governing body and is considered an overlay district as part of the zoning ordinance. The zoning ordinance, as authorized by North Carolina General Statute, imposes certain requirements, creates the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), and grants certain authority to the HPC. Development in a local historic district must meet design requirements and, as required, receive a Certificate of Appropriateness prior to commencing exterior work.

A National Register historic district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Listing in the National Register is mostly an honor but does offer some protection from adverse impacts caused by federal and state-funded projects. In addition, both federal and state tax credits for qualified rehabilitation projects are available to eligible properties in these historic districts.

Check with town staff to see if your property is eligible for these tax credits. 

My property is in a historic district. Do I need approval for a project?

Is your property located in the locally designated historic district or a locally designated historic landmark? If so, you'll need a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for any exterior work. Minor work COAs are reviewed and approved by staff. Major work COAs which involve changes to materials, buildings, and property require approval from the Historic Preservation Commission. Please see the COA Example Chart to help determine if your project is minor work or major work. If your property is located in a National Register Historic District  you do not need a COA with the exception of a demolition. All proposed demolitions of historic structures require a COA. It it important to note that in addition to a COA, you may also need to obtain other required permits to meet all other town regulations. 

All permit applications are electronic and available online at  Electronic Plan Review Portal . All first time users must set up an account before submitting a permit application. Once in the system, follow these instructions to submit your application:

  1. Click on “Submit a Project for Review”
  2. County, Select "Wake County"
  3. Application Category, Select “Planning/Developmental Services”
  4. Application Type, from the drop down menu, select Certificate of Appropriateness
  5. Application Workflow, from the drop down menu, select "Certificate of Appropriateness - Minor Work", "Historic Preservation Commission" for Major Work changes to historic properties that are not "additions, new construction, or demolition", OR "Major Work (Additions, New Construction, Demo) "for those items.
  6. The subdivision/area is your address and "Local Historic District" or "Local Historic Landmark"
  7. Complete the instructions and provide as much information as possible so staff can review the project. Please upload existing condition photographs and specification documents into the system.
  8. The following fees can be paid through the system via credit card:
    • Minor Work COA $ 25
    • Major Work COA $ 50
    • Major Work COA - Additions/New Construction $100
    • Demolition COA $ 200

For additional information on the Electronic Plan Review visit the webpage

How do I apply to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission?

The town regularly advertises for vacant seats on its various advisory boards. Under NC General Statute the majority of members of the Historic Preservation Commission must have experience or a demonstrated special interest in historic preservation, history, historical architecture, archaeology or related field.

Members of the Historic Preservation Commission are appointed for three-year terms and may serve two consecutive terms for a total of 6 years.

The Historic Preservation Commission meets monthly on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at 6:30 pm.

If you are interested in applying to serve on the Historic Preservation Commission you are encouraged to attend a few meetings to gain an understanding of the HPC's work.

To apply visit this page and click on the "apply" button in the upper right of the page. 

When is the next Christmas Historic Tour?

The Christmas Historic Tour is conducted every two years, in even numbered years. Generally, it is held on the first Saturday in December, the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend.

The next tour is tentatively planned for Saturday, December 7, 2024.

Additional information is available on our web page.

Historic Preservation FAQs
Senior Planner - Historic Preservation