Overview of CHAP -  Other CHAP Documents:
Protecting Baltimore's Past for the Future (pamphlet)
Historic Preservation Guidelines
(pamphlet)
Historic Tax Credits (pamphlet)
CHAP Application Forms
In recent decades, all major American cities, have created preservation programs, but Baltimore is known for having one of the earliest and first in the State of Maryland. In a pioneering effort, the City of Baltimore created the program of the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) in 1964 to protect dozens of historic buildings in the Mount Vernon area which had been threatened with demolition. The fundamental purpose of the commission was, and is, to review proposals for exterior changes, new construction and demolition affecting designated landmark buildings and buildings in designated historic districts. Naturally, the Mount Vernon historic district, home of the nation's first formal monument to George Washington, also celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, too!

CHAP serves an important and unique function in the City of Baltimore which cannot be provided by any other agency. Only CHAP can prevent the demolition of significant local buildings and make possible incentives for their protection. By ordinance, CHAP, like other preservation commissions in the state, is mandated to recommend buildings and neighborhoods for designation, conduct follow-up design review and initiate a variety of activities that encourage preservation of valued buildings. By law, the preservation program is part of the permit process and currently protects approximately 7000 buildings in historic districts and over a hundred local landmarks.

Historically, neighborhoods have been particularly receptive to the concept of local historic district designation in Baltimore City because it supports the goals of community stability. In each of the now twenty local historic district representatives of the neighborhood associations work hand-in-hand with the commissioners and staff to apply the CHAP preservation guidelines to the benefit of the community. Property owners have welcomed the designation of local historic districts in Baltimore, as it has made the use of Baltimore City, State, and Federal historic tax credits, possible for them. The Historical Markers Program, the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, the Monument Conservation Program (including the "SOS"-Save Outdoor Sculpture Project), the Certified Local Government Program and the Federally mandated Compliance Survey Program are only a few of the CHAP activities that complement work in the neighborhoods.

As the "Baltimore Renaissance" has evolved, so has CHAP in its efforts to establish beneficial new policies and projects that keep preservation tools current. In 1981, the commission first published Historic Preservation Guidelines, a brochure which outlines the standards for design reviews. In 1982 a sign policy was established to be applied when considering applications for all types of signage and awnings in historic districts. During that same time period CHAP sponsored the "Neighborhood Discovery Program", which taught fifth grade students and their teachers the history of twenty-three Baltimore City neighborhoods. CHAP has sponsored workshops and in-service training programs to support all facets of community preservation. The commission adopted a procedure for the review of demolition applications; it specifically identifies the kinds of information required when considering claims of economic hardship. This is intended to help expedite the review process and clearly identify the commission's review standards. The comrnission has also created a state of the art tax incentive program that fostered millions of dollars in development city wide.

In a city of Baltimore's size, the completion of an historic treasures survey can seem to be a never ending endeavor. Throughout its history, CHAP has continued to document Baltimore's structrual resources. In addition to the survey of the twenty historic districts designated by ordinance, CHAP has produced surveys of Cathedral Hill, Market Center (Metro Center West), the Financial District 94etro Center East), Johnston Square, Oliver/Madison Square, Greenmount West, Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello, Wallbrook and numerous project-based neighborhood studies. The nationally acclaimed Nehemiah Housing Project was supported by CHAP's documentation of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. Recently, CHAP's survey has documented significant builder developed 20th century rowhouses in the Belair-Edison community. A11 of these surveys, and extensive history and preservation publications, are made available to the public through CHAP's preservation library.

The eleven volunteer commissioners, appointed by the Mayor, and their staff are a dedicated group of individuals who continue the important mission of CHAP, as established thirty-five years ago. They continue stewardship of the agency's earliest goals and are ever receptive to contemporary approaches to preservation that will benefit the City. The historic and architectural character of Baltimore is an irreplaceable commodity. The ongoing work of CHAP helps insure the continued existence of the finest and best loved features of Baltimore's unique urban environment.