Historic Preservation

The Citizens Association of Georgetown has, in one form or another, been representing the interests of Georgetown residents in local affairs for more than a century. The organization traces its roots to 1878, when the Georgetown Citizens Association was established as the District of Columbia’s first civic group. By the early 1920s, the group was successfully campaigning for the community’s first zoning rules to block an invasion of apartment buildings in what was then a community comprising mainly single-family homes.

Historic Preservation and Zoning

Founded in 1751, Georgetown became a nationally designated historic district in 1950 with passage of The Old Georgetown Act. This federal law created the Old Georgetown Board, a design advisory committee to the US Commission of Fine Arts to protect the historic integrity of our neighborhood. Designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1967, Georgetown is included in the Inventory of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

The Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG), according to our by-laws, is “dedicated to the restoration, preservation, maintenance, and protection of the historic character and exterior architectural features of buildings and historic sites and landmarks in the area in the District of Columbia defined as the old Georgetown district and the streets immediately facing that district.”

The Historic Preservation and Zoning (HPZ) Committee of CAG has as its primary mission:

“To preserve the historic character, to develop the aesthetic values of Georgetown as a place in which the Nation’s Capital was planned, and to assist in making it a pleasant place in which to live.”

The Committee:

  • Promotes appreciation and understanding of historic preservation.
  • Educates the community about the responsibilities of living in Georgetown National Historic Landmark District, and builds awareness of historic preservation regulations, laws, and guidelines via programs and frequent articles in the CAG website and newsletter.
  • Serves as a resource to residents about the design approvals process, comments on proposed projects, and examines evolving rules and regulations affecting historic preservation and zoning in Georgetown, and supports residents when their concerns are aligned with CAG’s mission.

In practice, the Committee:

  • Works with the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, Georgetown BID, Georgetown Business Association, Georgetown University, Committee of 100 on the Federal City, local and adjoining neighborhood associations, and more.
  • Reviews proposed projects each month by studying drawings in advance of each ANC meeting and by inviting developers to present their plans.
  • Follows projects through the months-long approval processes, commenting when needed.
  • Develops consistent positions for major projects in the historic district that can be applied, with the support of the CAG Board, to benefit the community in advancing CAG’s mission.
  • Testifies periodically before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, Old Georgetown Board, Historic Preservation Office, Historic Preservation Review Board, Office of Planning, DC Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Adjustment, DC City Council, and other city agencies.
  • Pursues historic preservation or zoning changes that would be most beneficial to Georgetown, and speaks out against those that would cause harm.
  • Communicates our work regularly to CAG members through membership meetings and the CAG newsletter and website.

CAG’s Historic Preservation Guide

What every Georgetowner wants and needs to know about historic preservation is now summarized in a helpful brochure: A Guide to Historic Preservation Work in Georgetown.

The Guide explains the evolution and boundaries of Old Georgetown and presents suggestions about evaluating and respecting historic property, practical information on applying for permits, tips on working with neighbors, and guidance on applicable standards and zoning regulations.

The Guide to Historic Preservation Work in Georgetown outlines the process of project design approval and the roles of the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), the US Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), the Old Georgetown Board (OGB), and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). What for many Georgetowners is an alphabet soup is concisely explained and useful links to more detailed information are provided.

Every Georgetown resident-and prospective resident-will find this a handy and useful booklet. The links below contain all of the information in the guide. Hard copies are readily available from CAG office (202-337-7313) or you can print the pages from this website.

Anyone considering construction or remodeling in Georgetown should be aware of their responsibilities. This brochure gives an overview of the permit review process and lists sources for more complete information. It briefly describes when you need a permit, how you apply for a permit, who reviews your application, and details the main steps in the process. It also provides some practical guidance designed to help you avoid common mistakes, and thereby expedite your review process.

Download our brochure: A Guide to Historic Preservation Work in Georgetown

Helpful links: Old Georgetown Board (OGB) Project Review and OGB FAQs

Read the latest installments of a series authored or curated by HPZ Chair Elsa Santoyo: Historic preservation in Georgetown and the work of CAG HPZ.