City of Saginaw, Michigan


The Saginaw Historic District Commission was established by ordinance in 1987. It is the responsibility of the Commission to review all plans for construction, alteration, repair, moving, or demolition of structures or signs in the City's three local historic districts. This function was previously performed by the Saginaw County Historic District Commission which was eliminated by the County in 1986.

Commission review

Any proposed project which will affect the outside appearance of any structure or its surrounding lot located in the Heritage Square Historic District, the Old Saginaw City Historic District, or the North Michigan Historic District must be reviewed and approved by the Saginaw Historic District Commission.

Examples of exterior modifications which require Commission review are:

  • Building Additions
  • Garages and Carports
  • Siding
  • Roofing
  • Signs
  • Demolitions
  • Parking Lots
  • Awnings

All decisions on permit review made by the Commission are based on information submitted and the standards and guidelines adopted by the Commission.

Applications for review are available from the Planning & Zoning Division of the Community and Economic Development department, at City Hall, 1315 S. Washington Avenue.

Historic District Permit

Any questions about permit review in the historic districts may be directed to City Staff by calling (989) 759-1308.

Regular meetings of the Commission are held on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

The Commission has been established to assist property owners in their rehabilitation and improvement efforts.

Heritage Square Historic District

Established in 1975, this was the first local historic district created in the City of Saginaw. The 25+ block district is predominately residential, with some professional offices located in former residential structures located on Court Street. Read More

Old Saginaw City Historic District

This district was established in 1981 and comprises the majority of the West Side Business District. This 12 block area is primarily commercial, with some industrial usage along the Saginaw River. Read More

The Difference between a Local Historic District and a National Register District

There are substantial differences between a Local Historic District and a National Register District. This page has been prepared by the City of Saginaw to help clarify these differences.

National Register Districts

A National Register District is part of the National Register of Historic Places. This list of individual buildings, sites, and objects, includes districts. All of which are deemed important in American history, culture, architecture, or archaeology. It is a federal designation and is administered by the Secretary of the Interior. The national register is a federal program of the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. In Michigan, the State Historic Preservation Office, as part of the Michigan Historical Center, administers the program. Michigan boasts over one thousand National Register listings, including such diverse historic properties as houses, commercial and residential areas, farm and factory complexes, cemeteries and parks, monuments, ships and shipwreck sites.

Listing in the National Register does many things:

Recognizes that the area is important to the history of the community, state or nation; Allows the owners of income-producing property certain federal tax incentives for rehabilitation; Provides limited protection from adverse effects by federal or state involved projects. If there is no state or federal involvement in a project (including federal licenses, permits, or funding) and no pertinent local or regional regulations (such as a local historic district) then listing in the National Register of Historic Places does not limit an owner's handling of the property at all.

How does a property or district become listed on the National Register?

A nomination form, available at, must be completed. Completed nominations are submitted to the State Historic Preservation Review Board, which is composed of professionals in the fields of American history, architectural history, cultural geography, prehistoric and history archaeology, historic preservation and related disciplines. If the nomination meets the requirements, the State Historic Preservation Officer forwards the nomination to the National Park Service, which makes the final decision on the property's listing.

Do the property owners have control over the listing of a district or place?

Affected property owners and local authorities are notified of the review board meeting and given an opportunity to comment on the nomination. If the owner of a private property, or the majority of such owners for a property or district with multiple owners, objects to the nomination, the State Historic Preservation Officer forwards the nomination to the National Park Service only for a determination about whether the property is eligible for listing. If a majority of owners does not object, the State Historic Preservation Officer may approve the nomination and forward it to the National Park Service to be considered for listing. If the nomination is approved by the National Park Service, the property is officially entered in the National Register. There are more than 1000 National Register listings in Michigan. There are a total of 10 listed districts in the City of Saginaw - and there are also 19 sites or places listed within the registry in the City.

Local Historic Districts

In a local historic district, proposed changes to exterior architectural features are reviewed by a locally appointed historic district commission. A property owner who was seeking to alter the appearance of the structure would make an application to the Historic District Commission. The Commission holds a public meeting and if it determines the action and proposal is appropriate, it issues a certificate of appropriateness. The rules governing local historic districts were established in Public Act 169 of 1970. A total of 59 communities within the State of Michigan have established historic districts and commissions.

Under the Local Historic Districts Act, 1970 PA 169, a local unit of government may not enact an ordinance that restricts that unit from placing property in a local historic district without the consent of the property owner.

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Document Center

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Historic Districts Studies6 documents

  • Pere Marquette-Potter Street Station Historic District Final Report
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  • Michigan Avenue
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  • Temple Theatre Single Entity District
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  • Historic Preservation Guide 1979
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  • Saginaw County Historic Assets 1973
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  • Saginaw County Historic Preservation Plan 1975
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