Cape Cod has a wealth of historic resources, from its buildings and historic villages to its cultural landscapes and archaeological sites. Thousands of Cape buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or located in one of the region's 22 local and regional historic districts. Many more historic properties exist outside these protected areas. The Cape Cod Commission works to preserve the important historic and cultural features of the Cape landscape and built environment through a variety of means, including technical assistance, regulatory review of projects impacting historic resources, and educational programs.
The Commission has an Historic Preservation Specialist and several Planning staff members who can evaluate the architectural and historic significance of historic properties, advise town boards and historic organizations as they review project proposals, help develop bylaws, regulations, and design guidelines to protect historic areas and archaeologically sensitive lands, and give presentations about Cape Cod architecture and related topics to increase knowledge of the region's historic resources and preservation efforts. The Commission also organizes workshops and presentations to educate and train historic board members, town staff, and the public.
Through its regulatory program, the Commission reviews Developments of Regional Impact (DRIs) and seeks to preserve and protect the Cape's historic resources in the face of strong development pressures. The Cape Cod Regional Policy Plan's standards for protection of historic buildings, landscapes, and archaeological resources have guided the preservation of many historic properties within large-scale developments. The standards have also required the re-use and careful alteration of some individual properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Commission staff coordinates with town boards to determine when Cape Cod Commission review is required. (See Referring Historic Properties to the Cape Cod Commission for Review.)