Historic Districts

An historic district is a geographically definable area with a significant concentration of buildings united by past events, design, material, or related historical associations.

Local Historic Districts may be designated by the South Bend Common Council or the St. Joseph County Council and preservation guidelines protect the character and value of these areas.

The National and State Registers of Historic Places are maintained by the National Parks Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Department of Historic Preservation and Archaeology and can be districts or individual sites and structures.

An explanation of the differences between Local and National historic districts can be found here.

Local Historic Districts in South Bend, Indiana

The Local Historic Districts of South Bend have been established at various times over the past thirty years. The South Bend Common Council designated the West North Shore Drive Historic District in 1978 as the first historic preservation district established. Eight additional Local Historic Districts have been designated since, including: Chapin Park, East Wayne Street, Edgewater Place, Lincolnway East, North Saint Joseph Street, River Bend, Riverside Drive, and Taylor's Field.

The variety of buildings in these districts: residences, carriage houses, firehouses,  and commercial structures. They exhibit South Bend's diverse architectural character and the fine craftsmanship used to build the city's neighborhoods, parks, and commercial areas. They are also the beloved neighborhoods of several hundred South Bend residents. Steadily, much improvement in the historic neighborhoods has been accomplished by their care and hard work.

Local Historic Districts are a zoning overlay that does not change current zoning but does includes more comprehensive standards for the protection of these areas. Designation of Local Historic Districts is based on the following criteria: historic and cultural significance, educational value, and suitability for preservation.

Q & A About Local Historic Districts


Local Historic District status provides benefits to a designated area. The standards and guidelines put in place and administered by the Historic Preservation Commission protect characteristic architectural features of individual properties and the scale, massing and other features of the district. These guidelines provide stability to central city neighborhoods and guide appropriate change and development. Recent studies in Indiana have found that property values in historic districts stabilize or rise due to preservation guidelines. Historic district status also provides an area with a centralized location for technical resources and advice provided by the Historic Preservation Commission and its partners. The Historic Preservation Commission meetings serve as a public forum and discussion about the districts and the county's cultural resources.

Current Local Historic Districts

South Bend Historic Districts brochure 
Historic Districts Map 
Chapin Park
East Wayne Street
Edgewater Place
Lincolnway East
North Saint Joseph Street
River Bend
Riverside Drive
Taylor's Field
West North Shore Drive

When a neighborhood or area seeks historic district designation, the Historic Preservation Commission staff and the Historic Districts Committee work with the members of the neighborhood association or community steering committee to write guidelines and standards that protect and maintain the character-defining features of the area. Though each district's standards are similar in many ways, each neighborhood association is able to add components that are unique to the district, provided they fall within the historic preservation parameters set by the Secretary of the Interior. For example, the Chapin Park neighborhood association specifically added language to protect their historic brick streets and vintage streetlights.All of the districts have chosen Rehabilitation Standards. Under this category, restoration is encouraged but not required. Modern materials and construction methods may be used if they are compatible with the district per each district's guidelines. The districts' guidelines are available in PDF form by clicking on this link, or via the "Guidelines" link on the side banner.

National Register Historic Districts

Saint Joseph County and South Bend boasts many historic districts that are important to the historic development of the area and are connected to national historic trends. National Register Districts are listed after the completed nomination is approved by the State Historic Preservation Officer and the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. As a Certified Local Government agency, the Historic Preservation Commission may also process National Register nominations. To be listed, a district or property must pass certain historical and architectural criteria to be placed on the register.

Chapin Park
East Washington
Howard Park
Muessel-Drewery Brewery
Saint Casimir Parish
South Michigan Street
West Washington

To find a complete listing of properties on the National Register of Historic Sites and Places in Saint Joseph County, please visit the National Park Service's website.

Tax Advantages

There are certain tax advantages available to properties listed on the National Register. The US Federal government offers a Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit on 20% of the cost of a certified rehabilitation of an income producing certified historic property. The State of Indiana offers a Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit on 20% of the cost of a certified rehabilitation of a residential certified historic property. A certified rehabilitation follows the US Secretary of the Interior Rehabilitation Standards. A certified historic property is one that is already listed on the National Register or certified as eligible for the National Register by the State Historic Preservation Officer.