Historic District Commission

About the Commission

The Shrewsbury Historic District was declared locally in 1972 to "offer a visual example of our historic and cultural heritage. To its inhabitants it affords prestige and economic protection from decrease of land values through deterioration of neighborhood blight."

The Historic District Commission has jurisdiction over two designated Historic Districts in the Town of Shrewsbury:

  • The Historic District in the center of Shrewsbury, which extends north of Main Street, including the Town Common, The First Congregational Church, 1830 brick schoolhouse, Library, the southeast section of Mountain View Cemetery, and five historic homes
  • The Artemas Ward homestead owned by Harvard University

Mission and Local Resources

  • Local Historic districts have three major purposes as stated in Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 40C.
    • To preserve and protect the distinctive characteristics of buildings and places significant in the history of the Commonwealth and its cities and towns;
    • To maintain and improve the settings of those buildings and places;
    • To encourage new designs compatible with existing buildings in the district.
  • The benefits of local historic districts are many; they:
    • Can be credited with saving the character of many areas in Massachusetts.
    • Provide protection from demolitions and inappropriate remodeling and a visual sense of the past.
    • Provide assurance that the historic built environment will be there for future generations to enjoy
    • Create pride in the community and neighborhood stabilization and provide schoolchildren with educational opportunities

The purpose of a local historic district is not to halt growth, but to allow for thoughtful consideration of change.

Historic districts do not prevent all changes from occurring, nor do they prevent all demolition, new construction or development. The intent is to make changes and additions harmonious and prevent the intrusion of incongruous elements that might detract from the aesthetic and historic values of the district. (Source Establishing Local Historic Districts, Massachusetts Historical Commission, 2007)

Homeowner Testimonial

“It is wonderful to live in the historic center of Shrewsbury near the common and near other historic homes. We are happy to know that Shrewsbury works hard to preserve its treasured past as much as possible. The Shrewsbury Historic District Commission has been wonderful to work with and has been very supportive of all the restoration work we proposed. We appreciate their dedication in the historic district and their backing on our own projects.”

 - Mame and Paul Little