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​For more information please contact: 

Jill Thacher,
Historic Preservation Coordinator

734.794.6265 x42608

​Should I repair the windows in my house or business (or other structure) in a historic district? When may I replace them?

Contributing (pre-1945) Structures

If the structure you want to do work on was built before 1945, it is usually a contributing structure, meaning it contributes to the character of the historic district through its size, materials, style, massing, etc. A building need not display all of these characteristics to be a contributing structure. There are a few circumstances where a structure built before 1945 has lost its significance. For example, if a building was constructed before 1945 but moved to a new site in or after 1945, it is  usually not considered to be contributing. If you have questions about a structure's status as contributing or non-contributing, please contact staff. 

Windows that were installed before 1945 on contributing structures are character-defining features. These windows need to remain and be repaired and refurbished. When a pre-1945 window is deteriorated beyond repair, the property owner may apply to the HDC to propose replacing the historic windows with closely-matching replicas.   

Windows that were installed after 1944 on contributing structures may be replaced with a staff approval for windows appropriate for the house and a building permit. This includes window style, materials, and opening size. For example, if you have wood double-hung windows that were installed in the 1970s you may replaced them with new wood double-hung windows in the same openings. Sometimes modern wood windows may be replaced with clad wood windows on the parts of the house that are not visible from the street. Please contact staff to discuss your particular situation. 

Ann Arbor Historic District Commission information on contributing historic windows: 
Additional information on historic windows: 
Applications are not necessary to repair historic windows. An approved application to the Historic District Commission is always required before pre-1945 windows may be replaced in contributing structures. The application fee is $100 plus either $25 per window proposed to be replaced in single- and two-family houses or $50 per window on multi-family and commercial buildings. 

An application for Commission approval is always required when new or enlarged window openings are proposed on a contributing structure. 

To get started on an HDC application, click Applications on the left sidebar of this page. 

​Non-Contributing (post-1944) Structures

If the structure was built after 1944, it is a non-contributing structure; that is, it is not considered to be a historic building. 

Windows in non-contributing structures may be replaced with an HDC staff approval ($35) and approved building permit. The windows must fit in existing openings and the type of window and style must be compatible with the structure. 

For new windows in new or enlarged openings on a non-contributing structure, please contact HDC staff to determine whether a staff approval or commission approval will be required. ​​