Established in 1753, Salisbury today enjoys a rich heritage of historical and cultural resources that have been passed down over many centuries, and it honors a long tradition of recognizing, preserving, and promoting its many outstanding historic places. From the colorful bungalows of West Square, where the voices of brawny railroad workers still echo, to the classical Carnegie Library of Livingstone, where the books have whispered to young people through the ages, our shared inheritance is one that both enchants and inspires us.
Salisbury is known for its rich heritage of Piedmont architecture dating from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when the city reached its zenith as a regional economic powerhouse. Domestic and commercial buildings ranging in style from Victorian, Italianate, Beaux-Arts, Craftsman, Tudor, and beyond contribute to a strikingly eclectic and distinctive character in the downtown and adjoining neighborhoods.
The city has taken a progressive approach to preserving historic resources, establishing itself at the forefront of preservation in North Carolina with the designation of its first historic district in 1975. Soon after, the City Council adopted a local historic overlay and established the Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission to oversee design review. In 1980, Salisbury was among the first five communities in North Carolina to begin participating in the National Trust Main Street Program. Finally, in 1994, Salisbury was designated a Certified Local Government with the State of North Carolina Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and has continued to partner with SHPO for technical assistance over the subsequent decades.
Today, the city’s historic inventory includes ten districts as well as seventeen individual buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Five of these districts, including the downtown, are also locally-designated with design review for alterations or major changes. This stewardship of the downtown and historic neighborhoods, in conjunction with federal and state tax incentives with substantial private investment, has resulted in an award-winning downtown and urban core that is vibrant and authentic.
Landmark designations may apply to individual buildings, structures, sites, areas, or objects which are studied by the commission and judged to have historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural value. Property owners who are interested in seeking landmarks status are encouraged to review the process outlined below.