Preserving the Past: A Look at Historic Preservation Policies in Rockville, MD

As an expert in historic preservation, I have had the privilege of working closely with the city of Rockville, Maryland. This city is not only rich in history and culture, but it also has a strong commitment to preserving its past. Being one of the oldest cities in the state, Rockville is home to numerous historic sites and landmarks that tell the story of its past. In this article, I will explore the policies and efforts that Rockville has in place to protect and maintain its valuable heritage.

The Importance of Historic Preservation

Before delving into the specific policies in Rockville, it is important to understand why historic preservation is crucial for any city.

Historic preservation is the practice of protecting and maintaining buildings, structures, and sites that have significant historical, cultural, or architectural value. These sites serve as tangible links to our past and help us understand our roots and identity as a community. Preserving historic sites also has economic benefits. It can attract tourists, create jobs, and boost property values. In fact, studies have shown that neighborhoods with well-preserved historic buildings tend to have higher property values than those without.

The Role of the Historic District Commission

In Rockville, the Historic District Commission (HDC) is responsible for overseeing the preservation of historic sites and buildings.

The HDC was established in 1974 and is made up of seven members appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The commission works closely with property owners, developers, and other stakeholders to ensure that historic sites are preserved while also allowing for responsible development. The HDC has designated several areas in Rockville as historic districts, including West End, East Rockville, and Lincoln Park. These districts are subject to specific guidelines and regulations to preserve their historic character. Any changes or alterations to buildings within these districts must be approved by the HDC.

Historic Preservation Ordinance

In addition to the HDC, Rockville also has a Historic Preservation Ordinance in place.

This ordinance was adopted in 1980 and outlines the procedures and regulations for preserving historic sites and buildings. It also establishes the criteria for designating a site as historic and outlines the process for obtaining a Certificate of Approval from the HDC for any changes or alterations to a historic property. One of the key components of the ordinance is the creation of a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). The HPC is responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on applications for Certificates of Approval. They also conduct surveys and studies to identify potential historic sites and provide educational resources to the community.

Rockville's Historic Sites

Rockville is home to numerous historic sites that have been carefully preserved and maintained over the years.

One of the most well-known is the Beall-Dawson House, which was built in 1815 and served as a residence for several prominent families in Rockville. Today, it is open to the public as a museum, showcasing life in the 19th century. Another notable site is the Glenview Mansion, which was built in 1926 and served as a summer home for a wealthy Washington, D. C. family.

It is now used as an event venue and is open for tours on select days. The Red Brick Courthouse, built in 1891, is another important historic site in Rockville. It served as the county courthouse until 1938 and now houses the Montgomery County Circuit Court Historical Society.

Challenges and Future Plans

While Rockville has made significant efforts to preserve its historic sites, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. One of the main challenges is balancing preservation with development. As the city continues to grow and expand, there is a constant need for new development, which can sometimes clash with the preservation of historic sites. To address this issue, the HDC and HPC work closely with developers to find a balance between preserving historic sites and allowing for responsible development.

They also provide resources and incentives for property owners to maintain and preserve their historic buildings. In the future, Rockville plans to continue its efforts in preserving its rich history. The city has identified several areas for potential historic designation and is working towards expanding its historic districts. They also plan to enhance educational resources and promote awareness of the importance of historic preservation.


Rockville, MD takes great pride in its history and has implemented policies to ensure that its heritage is preserved for future generations. The HDC, HPC, and Historic Preservation Ordinance play crucial roles in protecting and maintaining the city's historic sites.

With continued efforts and collaboration, Rockville will continue to be a shining example of successful historic preservation.