Preserving Petaluma's Past
The Petaluma River Valley has been the location of human settlement for hundreds of years. Its fertile soils and abundant wildlife provided sustenance, while the river acted as a natural transportation route to the south. Its first inhabitants were native Coast Miwok tribes, who were followed by European settlers.
Petaluma has a Nationally Registered Commercial District and two City-designated local Historic Districts. Over 300 properties have been surveyed for potential historic significance. Well-known historic landmarks in the City include the Sweed House, United States Post Office (4th and D Streets), the Opera House, the former Carnegie Library (now the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum), and the Old Silk Mill.
The City of Petaluma has established three Historic Districts. Before commencing exterior work of any kind on any building within a historic district, please review the relevant district guidelines and Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. After reviewing, please contact the Planning Division. Almost all exterior work requires some level of discretionary review.
Historic landmarks are historic resources that the Petaluma City Council has determined, after receipt of a recommendation by the Historic and Cultural Resource Committee and Planning Commission, to be significant based on local, state, and federal criteria. A historic resource can be a building, a structure, a district, a site, an object, or a record. In Petaluma, historic landmarks are mainly buildings. Historic landmark properties are provided a “Historic” overlay on the City’s Zoning Map.
Applications to alter designated historic resources (excluding demolition) are reviewed in accordance with Implementing Zoning Ordinance Section 15.050 and 15.070. Review under those sections includes an evaluation of conformance with district guidelines (when applicable) and the Secretory of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
The Secretary of the Interior has established professional qualification standards for the preparation of Historic Surveys and Evaluations used to determine eligibility for State or National historic designation. Petaluma relies on these standards for the preparation of reports that inform the decision making process.