Historical Commission

What We Do

The Watertown Historical Commission was established in 1985 to preserve, protect, and advocate for the Town’s historical or archaeological resources.

Our responsibilities include implementing the Demolition Delay Ordinance, researching places of historic or archaeological value, educational outreach to the community, building upon the base of historic knowledge already in existence, and establishing long-lasting protection of these resources for future generations.

The Commission cooperates with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the State Archaeologist and renders opinions and recommendations to the Town Council, Town departments, and the public.

To be added to the list of recipients of all Historical Preservation announcements, please visit the Watertown Home web page and sign up for notify me under Historical Preservation.

Meeting Information

Meetings are typically scheduled for the Second Thursday of each month starting at 7 PM in the Phillip Pane Lower Hearing Room or as identified on the months agenda.

Agendas and Minutes

Agendas are available prior to the meetings.

Most Recent Agenda | View All

Minutes are available following approval.

Most Recent Minutes | View All

Demolition Delay Application Process

The Historical Commission implements the Demolition Delay Ordinance. If a building older than 50 years is proposed for demolition, the Commission conducts a public hearing on the historic and architectural nature of the building to determine whether the Commission and the petitioner should pursue avenues to save the building.

In order to be eligible to make the agenda for a meeting, you must have at least one copy of the required documents in the Preservation Office, by the close of business of the Filing Deadline set for the next month's meeting.  Please contact the Preservation Office once you have determined you will be filing documents for a review under the Demolition Delay Ordinance with any questions.


The Watertown Historical Commission will review your application for demolition at a scheduled public hearing before a demolition permit may be issued. Watertown's Demolition Delay Ordinance is administered by the Watertown Historical Commission to protect from destruction significant buildings that it are in the public interest to preserve.

When the Historical Commission determines that a building is significant and should be preserved, it can delay demolition for up to 12 months. This period allows the Commission, the owner, and the community to explore avenues to preserve the building or mitigate its loss.

In order for the demolition review to proceed, 10 copies of the following materials must be submitted to:

Town of Watertown Administration Building
Preservation Office
149 Main St.
Watertown, MA 02472

Required Documents & Specifications

Copies must be no larger than 11 inches by 17 inches and must be submitted by the Additional Information Deadline of the corresponding scheduled public hearing.

Ten Copies of the following materials must be submitted in order for the demolition review to proceed, in copies no larger than 11 inches by 17," by the Additional Information Filing Deadline of the corresponding scheduled public hearing (see scheduled public hearing link above). PLEASE NOTE: ONE COMPLETE COPY OF YOUR SUBMITTAL MUST BE RECEIVED BY OUR OFFICE ON THE FILING DEADLINE DATE. IF ONE COMPLETE COPY IS not RECEIVED YOUR APPLICATION WILL not BE HEARD AT THE NEXT PUBLIC HEARING. 

The following documents are required:

  • Dimensioned site plan of existing building and of the proposed replacement project, signed by the current record owner of the property.
    • If the current record owner is not the applicant, then the applicant must also sign.
    • The site plan should indicate the relationship to the surrounding structures and properties.
  • Schematic elevation drawings of the proposed replacement project, signed by the current record owner of the property
    • If the current record owner is not the applicant, then the applicant must also sign.
    • Dimensions and construction materials should be indicated.
    • Elevations that demonstrate the relationship to neighboring structures are preferred.
  • Exterior photographs of the existing building and abutters as seen from a public way.


Historic Plaque Program

Did you know that you can order a historic plaque to display on your home which identifies the year it was built, the architect or builders name, or the name of the original owner? You may clique on this link to access a historic plaque application (PDF) here. A member of the commission will conduct the research on your home if you are not aware of the history of your home already.

Sweet Auburn Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn

Of special note, please follow the link below to an article recently written by David Russo, Chairperson of the Historical Commission. Russo wrote this article about his experience preparing 226 inventory forms for registration with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, through the resources available at the Mount Auburn Cemetery. The article appeared in the Spring 2017 edition, Volume I of Sweet Auburn, a Magazine of the Friends of Mount Auburn.

The article can be seen here (PDF).

This article was shared with permission and courtesy of the Friends of Mount Auburn.


Members

  • Susan T. Steele
    77 Russell Avenue.
    Term Expires: October 1, 2018
  • Matthew Walter
    140 Church Street
    Term Expires: October 1, 2019
  • Joseph Panto
    11 Ladd St. Unit 3
    Term Expires: October 1, 2020
  • Thomas Melone
    115 Russell Avenue.
    Term Expires: October 1, 2019
  • Elisabeth H. Loukas, Chair
    324 Common St.
    Term Expires: October 1, 2018
  • Marilynne K. Roach
    141 Marshall Street
    Term Expires: October 1, 2020

For more information regarding historic resources in Watertown, please view our Useful Links.

The Commission Is Not A Society

The Watertown Historical Commission was established by the Town as a regulatory commission. We are an all-volunteer commission which is part of the Town government, appointed by the Town Manager.

A common misconception is that we are the Historical Society of Watertown, a private non-profit organization. You can contact them at: 28 Marshall St., Watertown, MA 02472 617-923-6067 or Historical Society of Watertown