One of the primary activities of the HRC is administration of Forsyth County's locally-zoned historic districts. The HRC is given the authority to review and approve exterior changes to properties located within the boundaries of these districts, which include Old Salem Historic District, Bethabara Historic District, and West End Historic Overlay District. 

Locally-Zoned Historic District Maps

Bethabara Historic District map [pdf/558kb/1p]

Old Salem Historic District map [pdf/692kb/1p]

West End Historic Overlay map [pdf/1mb/1p]

In order to maintain and enhance the character of these districts, the HRC's goals are as follows:

  • protection and promotion of Forsyth County's heritage;
  • encouragement of the efforts of district residents, property owners, utility companies, and local government to conserve the built and natural environments of these districts; and,
  • retention and enhancement of the historic character of these districts through the regulation of exterior alterations to structures, designs for new construction, and alterations to historic landscape features.

One of the ways the HRC achieves these goals is through the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) process. Applications for alterations, additions or new construction are reviewed by the Commission at its regular monthly meetings. The Commission bases application reviews on design review guidelines, which have been established for each district. If an application meets the requirements of the guidelines, the Commission issues a COA, which is a document indicating the Commission's approval of the proposed work. Some building permits cannot be issued for properties in local historic districts without a required COA. COA applications must be received 21 days prior to the Commission's monthly meeting. Refer to the second page of the application for further instructions on information to be submitted, as well as important notes related to the Certificate of Appropriateness process. Failure to supply adequate documentation or required materials will result in delays in processing the application and/or denial of the request. Review the Summary of Submission Materials for examples of the type of material required. Each district has a unique set of Design Review Guidelines (listed below). 

Local Historic District Design Guidelines  

Bethabara Historic District [pdf/4mb/84p]

Old Salem Historic District [pdf/4.9/ 92p] 

West End Historic Overlay [pdf/9.8mb/148p] 


Certain categories of work in the districts are considered to be Minor Work. Minor Work projects are types of exterior work that can be reviewed and approved by Historic Resources staff, provided that the projects meet the policies and guidelines adopted by the Commission. Minor Work application forms are different than regular COA applications.


Revised 3/5/2019

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