Historic Preservation

Enriching the Future with Lewiston's History

12 Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation

Condensed version of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

  1. Long-term Investment. Rehabilitation costs are roughly the same as building new. The life spans for new buildings are often 30-40 years, compared to more than 100 years for most historic structures.
  2. Rehabilitation projects create more jobs, per $1M spent, than the same amount spent on manufacturing, mining coal, pumping oil, or cutting timber. In a typical rehabilitation project, 60-70% of the total cost is local labor.
  3. Rehabilitation increases property values.
  4. Conserve resources by rehabilitating an existing building, rather than building new. Approximately 25% of materials being added to landfills is demolition and construction waste.
  5. Historic preservation directs development to places where infrastructure (roads, sewers, parks, etc.) is already in place, utilizing existing public investments.
  6. Older buildings make ideal locations for small, independent businesses and start-ups, which are responsible for creating 75% of all net new jobs in the U.S.
  7. Historic preservation supports the efforts of Main Street programs, which are revitalizing downtown districts.
  8. By valuing parts of the community that are unique and meaningful, it can attract investment by differentiating this community from anywhere else.
  9. Attract Visitors. Cultural heritage travelers spend, on average, $994 per trip compared to $611 for all U.S. travelers.
  10. Saving historic buildings reduces the pressure to pave the countryside and prevents sprawl.
  11. Rehabilitation projects can create affordable housing, using the federal rehabilitation tax credits.
  12. Historic preservation is good economic development which creates sustainable growth for communities.

Preservation Today, What Can You Do?

Historic preservation today does not mean you are unable to repair, refurbish or change your home, commercial building or investment property. In fact, federal tax credits are available for many types of projects.  Think of it this way, historic preservation relates to preserving cultural and architectural heritage that contributes meaning and character to the community.

Thoughtful preservation means that you assess the condition of your project by asking these questions:


  • Can the integrity be preserved with maintenance?
  • If not, then can it be restored or rehabilitated?
  • If the condition is in such disrepair and new construction is necessary, can the new construction be built implementing some of the exterior architectural designs of the original building, so that the building’s foot print is preserved?


The Lewiston Historic Preservation Commission (LHPC) is a resource for your project.  If you have questions about materials or building styles, the LHPC is able to help you find answers.  The LHPC will provide support and guidance on preservation and maintenance of historically significant homes, buildings, neighborhoods or sites.  They will help you by providing alternatives to demolition or removal of irreplaceable heritage.


Working with the LHPC is easy.  The Commission meets once a month and everyone is welcome. If your project is within the historic district, submission for a Certificate of Appropriateness is simply part of your building permit process.  You can work with staff in Community Development at the City of Lewiston to help you understand what is required.

Four Easy Steps for Historic Preservation

 According to Vikky Ross, Owner of Morgan’s Alley

Downtown historic preservation is a reflection of community pride. Rehabilitating and utilizing empty commercial buildings provide spaces for independently owned businesses, unique shopping experiences, valuable tax base and a place for people to explore days gone by.
Have a plan for the building.

Set up a meeting with Community Development and all code officials to do a preliminary code compliance site visit of the building with plans.

With official requirements to meet, engage contractors with a passion for historic buildings to provide cost estimates.

Prepare for a tremendous feeling of pride when the project is complete.

Benefits of Being in an Historic District

One of the strongest qualities of local historic district designation is that it can be tailored to the specific needs and distinct identity of the community and helps to protect and preserve local resources, even while the community is changing.


Development that enhances a historic district is important to the city’s evolution since it ties past, present and future together.  Change further indicates a healthy and lively community and reflects the united pride and investment the residents have in their neighborhood.

There are numerous other advantages to establishing a local historic district:

  • Local districts protect the investments of owners and residents.  Buyers know that the aspects that make a particular area attractive will be protected over a period of time.  Real estate agents in many cities use historic district status as a marketing tool to sell properties. Real estate values tend to hold steady or increase, tax credits make renovations more attractive, and historic districts typically provide character and a sense of community not found elsewhere.
  • Local districts encourage better design.  It has been shown through comparative studies that there is a greater sense of relatedness, more innovative use of materials, and greater public appeal within historic districts than in areas without historic designations.
  • Local districts help the environment.  Historic district revitalization can, and should, be part of a comprehensive environmental policy. Using reclaimed materials and rehabilitating existing buildings helps eliminate landfill overflow.
  • The educational benefits of creating local districts are the same as those derived from any historic preservation effort.  Districts can help explain the development of a place, the source of inspiration, and technological advances.  They are a record of ourselves and our communities.
  • A local district can result in a positive economic impact from tourism.  A historic district that is aesthetically cohesive and well promoted can be a community’s most important attraction.  The retention of historic areas as a way to attract tourist dollars makes good economic sense. The self-guided downtown walking tour and Historic Downtown “Ghost” Tour attracts visitors to downtown and introduces them to thriving business while they’re learning about the history.
  • The protection of local historic districts can enhance business recruitment potential.  Companies continually relocate to communities that offer their workers a higher quality of life, which is greatly enhanced by successful local preservation programs and stable historic districts.
  • Local districts provide social and psychological benefits.  A sense of empowerment and confidence develops when community decisions are made through a structured participatory process rather than behind closed doors or without public comment.

About the Lewiston Historic Preservation Commission

The Lewiston Historic Preservation Commission was created by City Council on September 22, 1975 to administer any historic district, site or area so designated by Council.

Additional duties of the LHPC are listed in Idaho Code:

• To preserve, promote, and develop the historical resources
• Issue Certificate of Appropriateness as applicable within the historic district
• Conduct a survey of local historic properties
• Preserve, restore, maintain and operate historic properties under the ownership or control of the commission
• Lease, sell and otherwise transfer or dispose of historic properties subject to rights of public access and other covenants and in a manner that will preserve the property
• Cooperate with the federal, state and local governments in the pursuit of the objectives of historic preservation
• Participate in the conduct of land use, urban renewal and other planning processes
• Recommend ordinances and otherwise provide information for the purposes of historic preservation
• Promote and conduct an educational and interpretive program on historic properties
(Title 67 Chapter 46)

Orchid Awards

The LHPC presents the annual Orchid Awards, a recognition program designed to celebrate those individuals and organizations that have made a positive contribution to historic preservation, and in turn to bring awareness to those projects that have shown great examples of restoration and preservation that keep the city’s cultural heritage alive.

Idaho Special Plates

The LHPC created the Idaho Territory Sesquicentennial Special License Plate and hosted the up-front costs for the state. Proceeds from the plate benefit all county historical societies in Idaho including Nez Perce County Historical Society and the LHPC.