Understanding Historic Properties

How do find out if a property is historic?

Many properties in St. Joseph are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but others have been determined to be even more important and have been listed on the St. Joseph Register of Historic Places (PDF).

Not all properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places are on the St. Joseph Register of Historic Places and vice-versa. If your property is somewhere that has been designated as a local historic place in the city, it’s held to the highest standards. The property has been determined to be an important artifact of St. Joseph’s past and there are a few principles to ensure this artifact is respectfully preserved.

  • If a property is listed on the St. Joseph register, the Landmark Commission must review any potential exterior changes that will be visible from the public right-of-way. 
  • For those changes, residents must follow the design guidelines, which were created to assist property owners in making renovations to designated historic properties in St. Joseph. The guidelines are based on principles specified in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, but with focus on designs specific to St. Joseph.
  • Before starting a renovation project, property owners must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA). COA’s are required for all exterior repairs, alterations, additions, demolition, landscaping and reconstruction projects. Applications must be reviewed by the Landmark Commission. Property owners will not be able to obtain a building permit until the commission approves the application.
  • There are no fees associated with applying for or obtaining a COA.

Is there anything that can help property owners with the costs of repairing my property?

The Historic Tax Credit Program allows Missouri property owners to take advantage of a reimbursement of up to 45% of the total investment. There are also local incentives. If there is a plan on performing substantial exterior or interior renovations on a historic property, apply for the annual Save Our Heritage Grant. Property owners could be approved to receive up to half of the project investment reimbursed. If something unexpected happens like a fire, storm damage or a collapse, the Emergency Stabilization Grant is also available. These grants are provided by the Riverboat Gaming and Aviation funds.

Are property owners required to maintain my historic property?

Yes, but not just with designated properties. All property owners throughout the city must preserve their property against decay, deterioration and other defects. This keeps neighborhoods clean and safe for all St. Joseph residents.

How do property owners designate a property?

For national or state historic tax credit, contact the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office. If residents would like to list a property on the St. Joseph Register of Historic Places, contact the city's historic preservation office at 271-4797. 

What are some other endeavors of the Historic Preservation Office?

Historic preservation staff does not only work on historically designated properties. Often staff has to work on what is called an Section 106 Review. Section 106 review is a historic review of projects that take advantage of federal funding like a renovation project uses funding provided from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Quite often the city of St. Joseph uses funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for renovations and demolitions of properties located throughout the city. The Section 106 process allows for staff to make sure they're doing projects that benefit the community. If properties are determined to cause an adverse effect to our historic fabric, staff collaborates with the public on ways that would best mitigate the loss.

Where are some examples of preservation in St. Joseph?

The Landmark Commission annually hosts the Preservation Awards recognizing those working on historic preservation in St. Joseph. Nominations for the awards can be submitted to the historic preservation office.

Are there any historic properties for sale?

The city of St. Joseph and the local nonprofit, the Historic St. Joseph Foundation, partnered together to establish the Historic St. Joseph Emporium in 2019. The Emporium seeks to help preserve the historic building stock in the city by providing a platform for realtors to list appropriate historic properties. The listings differ from the usual real estate listings in that emphasize the history of the property to places evolving within the community.