Historic Marker Program

Since 1976 the society has been awarding historic plaques through its Historic Marker Program.  In recent years, recognizing the diversity of the city’s neighborhoods, the society has developed a more inclusive, multi-tier marker program that reinforces the collective memory of many diverse people, past and present, who share a common heritage and which builds understanding and neighborhood pride. 

Download the form. The completed form should be returned to us with a $50 application fee, which if your property is approved, will be deducted from the full cost of the marker. 

Once we receive your completed application form and fee, we’ll do a visual inspection of the exterior to assure that the house meets the marker criteria. You will be notified of the results, and if approved, we can begin the research process. The balance of the fee ($200) is due prior to the initiation of further research, photography, clerical processing, and the ordering of the marker.

The New Bedford Preservation Society has designed a handsome bronze historic marker to distinguish the premier Level 1 category awardees.  Level 2 will be issued on the familiar green painted markers with gold lettering. Level 3 will be issued on ivory painted markers with dark green lettering. All will be customized to include the historic name and date of the designated properties.

The Marker Program now consists of three distinct marker types: Levels 1 and 2 that denote style, based on the following values of architectural significance, and a third marker (Level 3) that denotes a significant person or event having been associated with the property.

Levels 1 and 2 criteria:

  • age of property,  minimum of fifty years; 
  • architectural style – property must be clearly representative of 
  • its style or a combination of styles; altered properties would not necessarily be excluded, but the property must retain definite elements of its contributing styles.  A change in exterior wall fabric (for example, replacing clapboards with wood shingles) would not automatically disqualify a property unless the change included wholesale destruction of architectural details. 
  • property must be well-maintained and appropriately restored with a paint color scheme suitable to the style and period of the property. 

Level 3 criteria:
an event or person of local, state or national importance associated with the subject property.

The fee for a plaque is $250 and covers the historical research done to date the building and to establish who was responsible for its construction, the completion and filing of the Historic Building Survey Form B with the Massachusetts Historic Commission and for the manufacture of the plaque.

In 1997 the Society established the Elm Award to recognize those individuals or organizations that have done an outstanding job in either the restoration or preservation of their historic property.  As May is National Preservation Month, it is then that we schedule our Plaque and Elm Award Ceremony as a tribute to those who have accomplished much in preserving the heritage of the city for the future.

The Board reserves the right to designate any property eligible for a plaque by waiving any and all criteria, based on emergency situations such as, but not limited to, demolition or development. 

All replacement plaque applications will be subject to review by the Plaque Committee to be sure that the properties currently meet architectural integrity guidelines. The fee for a replacement plaque is $100.