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Woodville Historic District

Streetscapes of Historic Woodville

For a small village, Woodville holds much of Hopkinton’s charm and history. To preserve this valuable heritage, the Hopkinton Historical Commission and Historic District Commission are seeking to designate a yet-to-be-determined area of Woodville as a local historic district. We would like your input in exploring whether a Woodville Historic District meets with the approval and support of local Woodville residents. As a first step, we’ve formed a study committee (members noted below) that will explore options and obtain feedback from area residents, Town leaders, and civic organizations. 

photographed by Bill Shaw and Ron Yankee

We’re very fortunate that so many buildings from Woodville’s past still remain, often thanks to the efforts of individual owners. A local district can substantially aid these efforts by making sure that Woodville remains a distinct and historically significant part of the Town of Hopkinton. We believe that by establishing a local historic district, the unique character and historic significance of Woodville can be preserved. 

Answers to some frequently asked questions about historic district designations are below.  Notes from a Woodville Informational Meeting and the Woodville Study Report Draft are online here.

Woodville Historic District Study Committee

Establishing Local Historic Districts
Frequently Asked Questions

How is a local historic district created?
A Study Committee formed by the Town’s existing Historic District Commission will hold public meetings, seek public input, research the history of the area and prepare a report on their findings.  This process includes finding out what residents and property owners think of the proposal.  The final step is passage of a historic district bylaw by a two-thirds majority at the Town meeting.  Today, there are over 200 local historic districts in Massachusetts, and that number grows each year.

If my house is included in the Woodville Historic District, does that mean I have to make it look more historic?
No, you can maintain the current look of your house as long as you would like.  A local historic district only reviews proposed changes to exterior architectural features. Routine maintenance of your house is exempt from review.

What kinds of things are reviewed by a local historic district commission?
Changes to exterior architectural features visible from a public way are reviewed.  Interior changes, landscaping, maintenance, and exterior features not visible from a public way are not reviewed.  Other exemptions can also be included in the bylaw (please indicate your preferences on the attached survey).

How would the Woodville Historic District Commission be formed?
A local bylaw will describe specifically how the Board of Selectmen will make appointees to the Historic District Commission.  In other communities in Massachusetts, the historic district commission consists of residents of the District and other members who may be architects or realtors. 

Does this mean I can’t paint my house any color I want?
While some local historic districts in Massachusetts do include paint color review, we are recommending NOT to review paint colors in the Woodville Historic District.

What will happen to the value of my property if a Woodville Historic District is established?
No one can predict the future, but studies around the country suggest that property values stay the same or increase faster in local historic districts compared to similar, non-designated areas.

If I were to plan constructing an addition to my home or business  in the Woodville Historic District, what would I have to do?
Before acquiring a building permit for your addition, you would fill out an application to the Woodville Historic District Commission.  The Commission would review the proposed plans to make sure they are appropriate changes to the historic district.  A public hearing may also be held.  Once approved, the district commission would issue a certificate.  You would then present the certificate to the Building Inspector to get your building permit.  If the addition was not found appropriate, then the Commission would work with you to see how the project could be modified for approval.

Isn’t this just another level of bureaucracy?
While it is true that an additional step is needed for some projects, the benefits of protecting the rich architectural heritage found in Woodville outweigh this added step. Our village contains several buildings approaching 200 years old.  Without a local historic district, these gems that have lasted so long could be demolished or irreparably altered tomorrow.

If my neighbors and I already maintain the historic character of our properties, why do we need a Woodville Historic District?
By having a local historic district, you can be assured that a NEW property owner across the street from your house will also maintain the historic character of Woodville. 

What would be the boundaries of the Woodville Historic District?
Local historic districts in Massachusetts vary in size from a single lot to an entire Town.  Boundaries of the Woodville Historic District would be based on recommendations by the Study Committee and the public hearing process.