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historic preservation

Old City Hall Historic District



About the District


The Old City Hall Historic District (National Register of Historic Places, 1977, and Tacoma Register, 1978) includes some of Tacoma ís most architecturally important buildings, and served as the City's early commercial, governmental, and entertainment center from 1886 through the 1920s.

High on a bluff overlooking Commencement Bay , this fascinating area provides the best glimpse into the past during the days of boomtown Tacoma . It has been said that the city did not grow; it arrived - by rail - when it was selected as the western terminus for the Northern Pacific Railroad mighty transcontinental line.

Old City Hall (1892), which reflects the grand ambitions of the time, is an outstanding example of the height of the Italianate style in America . Other striking buildings are found throughout the district, including the Northern Pacific Headquarters (1888), the Beaux Arts Elks Temple (1916), and the Winthrop Hotel (1925). Smaller brick buildings from the time remain as reminders of Whiskey Row, the entertainment district that once thrived on the wages of dock workers and politicians. New uses continue to thrive as buildings are rehabilitated for office, retail and unique urban residences, maintaining the historic character of old Tacoma.

District Review District Requirements

What Gets Reviewed?

Exterior changes to contributing buildings within the historic district must be reviewed for historical appropriateness before the work is commenced or permitted by the City.

What is the Process?

The Landmarks Preservation Commission reviews applications for changes during their regular meetings.

Applications are available on this site in the Design Review page, or by clicking the Quick Links menu on the top right of this page.

Design Guidelines

The Landmarks Preservation Commission uses the Secretary of the Interiorís Standards for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties to evaluate the appropriateness of proposed alterations.

Financial Incentives

Buildings undergoing substantial rehabilitation may qualify for financial incentives, including the Special Tax Valuation Program and the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

Please visit our financial incentives page for more information.