Q&A with Karen McWilliams, City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Manager

Hillary Lorsch
2 min readOct 2, 2016


The City of Fort Collins describes a historic landmark as a site, building, structure or object officially recognized as important to the Fort Collins history by formal City Council action. I had the chance to question Fort Collins Historic Preservation Manager, Karen McWilliams, about the process of becoming a registered landmark in Fort Collins.

Q: How many years does the building need to be built for it to be considered a landmark?

McWilliams: Fort Collins does not specify an age, but generally a building should be 50 plus years old, unless it has special significance to the community. Significance is defined by the importance of a site, structure, object or district to the history, architecture, archeology, engineering or culture of our community, State or Nation. Significance is achieved through meeting one or more of four standards recognized by the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service.

Q: Can any building become a historic landmark?

McWilliams: To be designated, a building has to have both significance to the community and historic integrity.

Q: How many buildings are considered landmarks in Fort Collins?

McWilliams: Fort Collins has 275 Fort Collins Landmarks, 15 properties on the State Register of Historic Properties; and 735 properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

Q: Can a landmark be torn down?

McWilliams: It is not likely that the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) would approve of a designated building being torn down without a very good reason.

Q: Are there specific architect companies the city hires for preservation?

McWilliams: Property owners hire their own architects/contractors, but the City has one program, the Design Assistance Program, where we have identified a list of interested and qualified design firms with historic preservation experience, that owners can refer to.

Q: How can landmark owners get money to preserve the building?

McWilliams: Financial benefits can be found through State Tax Credit program, Landmark Rehabilitation Loan Program, or the Design Assistance Program. The State Tax Credit Program gives owners a dollar-for-dollar tax credit of 25% for all qualified rehabilitation expenditures, for both labor and materials. The Landmark Rehabilitation Loan Program offers up to $7,500 loans each year without any interest. For design and alterations, if a owner chooses to use the Design Assistance Program, the City will cover up to $2,000 of the costs for consultation and developing plans.

I hope after this interview you can better understand how the landmark system works.