Glen Ridge
Historic Preservation Commission

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), established by municipal ordinance in 1987, is charged with conserving, protecting, enhancing and perpetuating the landmarks, properties and improvements within the Glen Ridge Historic District. The District, comprising over 90 percent of Glen Ridge, runs roughly the entire length of the Borough.

The Borough of Glen Ridge possesses some of the most well preserved examples of residential architecture from the turn of the 19th C. This special housing stock provides a rich heritage that contributes to the beauty, while at the same time maintaining and enhancing real estate values of the Borough.

All exterior changes that require a Building Permit and that can be seen from any street must come before the HPC for review and approval. The HPC reviews and decides the applications at its monthly meetings in the Council Chambers at Borough Hall. One of the purposes of the HPC is to work with homeowners and their design professionals to assist in preserving and maintaining the historic character of their properties when changes are proposed.

Meetings generally take place the first Wednesday of each month at 8PM. The meetings, by law, are open to the public.

While each application is unique, most applications should be accompanied by photographs of the building as it exists, sketches to scale, site plans, working drawings, or architectural elevations of the proposed work, and samples of materials, where appropriate. In reviewing applications, the HPC considers, among other things, the visual compatibility of the proposed addition, alteration, construction or demolition with the structure and surrounding properties.

The HPC considers, among other things, the height, scale and proportion of buildings, materials, patterns that are consistent from structure to structure, and placement of structures in relationship to each other. The HPC recognizes and permits a diversity of stylistic treatments so long as the principle of compatibility is maintained, in keeping with the creative diversity, which is essential to the street-scape that forms the justification for the Glen Ridge Historic District.

Prior to submitting an application to the HPC, it may be helpful to review the Borough Ordinance governing the HPC: Ch. 15.32, et seq.

While not constituting hard and fast guidelines, rules, or all necessary requirements,the following information may be helpful to those submitting applications to the Commission:

What projects need to be approved by the HPC before obtaining a building permit?

Changes or alterations to a building that can be seen from the street and require a Building Permit are subject to review by the HPC. Changes or alterations that are not visible from the street (e.g. wholly interior renovations or rear yard renovations that are not visible from the street), while they may need a building permit from the Borough, do not need to get approval from the HPC.

While not being an exhaustive list, the following are some of the projects that require the approval of the HPC before a Building Permit can be issued:

  • Application of new roofing or siding if using a material other than that presently on a structure;
  • Adding a room or addition to the exterior of the house;
  • Alteration of structures such as the house or garage, or of some portion of a structure, e.g., porches, decks, or new additions;
  • Moving, adding or removing windows or doors;
  • Changing or covering any portion of the exterior, e.g., with vinyl, aluminum or other siding material;
  • Demolition or removal of any exterior structure; and
  • Building any new structure.


What does it mean to be "seen from the street"?

"Seen from the street" means that which can be seen from the front sidewalk (and side sidewalk, in the case of a corner building), even if it means peering down a driveway from an angle. The existence of trees, shrubs or fencing that may block the view of any change or alteration is not considered in the determination of whether it can be "seen from the street", as they may be removed over time. In some cases, the view from a side street, or the street behind the building is considered. Any renovation, including in the back yard, can be seen from the street on a corner proper. If you are not sure whether your change or alteration may be seen from the street, you should check with the Building Department.


Research and investigation

The first step in any project undertaken on a home in the Historic District is some forensic investigation. Research into historic photographs of the building or the removal of some more modern components (e.g. vinyl or aluminum siding) may reveal original architectural features. In many instances, original historic details may be either hidden or preserved, and enough evidence may exist that the historic details can be properly recreated. We are fortunate that most of the homes have historic photographs maintained in the archives of the Glen Ridge Historical Society, located at 222 Ridgewood Avenue, Glen Ridge, NJ 07028 ( We suggest that you contact the Glen Ridge Historical Society to view the archives maintained for your home before any change or alteration is undertaken.


Get the aid of a professional

While not a requirement, it may be beneficial for the homeowner to engage a registered architect or knowledgeable contractor in the work to be performed on any building in the District. An architect or other professional, experienced in historic properties, may help you better understand the details, proportions, and materials suitable to different architectural styles. They may be better able to synthesize the work with the existing building and any uncovered historic documentation to arrive at a final product that is in keeping with the historic character of the home and the beauty of the neighborhood.


What do I need to bring to the HPC meeting?

First, while not required, it is very important to both the homeowner and the HPC that the homeowner attend the review meeting. For large changes, it is advisable that the homeowner be accompanied by an architect, contractor or other design professional. If the owner will not be present, they will be asked to sign a form designating their representative to appear before the HPC on their behalf.

In most cases, architectural drawings are important to permit the HPC to fully understand the scope of work proposed. Proportionally correct elevations and site plans, with a graphic scale and pertinent dimensions, are a critical component of a submission. An existing and a proposed elevation for all facades impacted by the scope of work are required in most instances.

Accompanying floor plans are also helpful to the HPC since they help to explain the configuration of the elevations. Depending on the complexity of the project, a roof plan may be an appropriate component of the submission as well.

Lastly, specific detail or section drawings that explain the historically significant construction are also important and should be included as needed - these include, but are not limited to, such items as column details, porch and stair handrail details, and window details.

All drawings should include specifications on all visible materials, including, but not limited to, foundation material (masonry and mortar specs), siding (material, exposure, finish), trim, molding, windows (more below), doors, gutters, downspouts, flashings, and roofing. For all applications, bring material samples, where appropriate or helpful.

For large additions, the homeowner should provide a rendering, and/or panoramic photograph, of the streetscape and the adjacent houses to show how the addition fits in with the streetscape.


Frequently Presented Projects

Below are some projects and features that are frequently presented to the HPC. The information presented is to assist the homeowner in his/her application and is not intended to be a formal guideline, or a comprehensive checklist. Each project is unique and reviewed on its own merits.

  • Windows

    Windows are one of the most important features of an historic home. If a homeowner is planning to alter a window opening that can be "seen from the street", the proposal will need to be reviewed by the HPC. This includes eliminating a window, adding a window, increasing the size of a window, or reducing the size of a window. If an existing window opening is not changed, then the plans do not need to be reviewed by the HPC.

    Review of historic photographs, or the removal of some modern materials, may provide information regarding the original window design. In the absence of such "proof", the design of a window configuration shall be such that it is in keeping with the historic character of the building. This includes issues such as scale, proportion, placement, type (e.g. casement, double hung, etc.), and details (including sill profile; sash profile; muntin size, shape and pattern; and casing and molding profiles).

    In general, wood windows (not clad) with simulated divided lights have the appropriate historic profile and character and can most easily be manufactured to match the design of existing windows. Also wood windows can be painted to match the existing trim. Most window manufacturers produce a product line that is suitable for use in historic properties.

    While in most instances, the original windows were a double-hung type constructed from wood with sash weights suspended on chains, there are numerous examples of historic windows in different configurations constructed from different materials. Since there are instances in which the historically correct window may have been constructed from steel, or the divisions between the glass were lead cames instead of wood muntins, the HPC does not have a single specification for appropriate windows.

    The appropriateness of a window proposal will be viewed as part of an entire submission, taking into account the unique nature of the building. In general, vinyl or aluminum-clad windows have not been approved as suitable substitutions for wood windows.

    Homeowners should submit detailed specifications of the type of window they intend to use to the HPC.


  • Siding

    If a building owner is planning to change the siding material for all or a portion of the building that can be "seen from the street", the plans will need to be reviewed by the HPC. In general, the HPC does not approve vinyl or aluminum siding.

    If siding is being installed to infill an opening, where a window had been, for example, then it may be most appropriate to match the existing siding on the house.

    In certain circumstances, smooth fiber cement siding has been approved. However, it must be the smooth planking, not textured.

    As with windows, homeowners should submit detailed specifications of the proposed siding materials and present samples to the HPC.


  • Roofs

    As with windows, the roof is a major feature of most homes in the District. If the roofing material is being changed, the plans must be approved by the HPC. Examples include replacing a slate roof with an asphalt roof, a tile roof with an asphalt roof, a wood roof with a slate roof, etc. If a homeowner is replacing a roof with the existing material, asphalt to asphalt, for example, the plans do not need to be reviewed by the HPC.

    The HPC is sensitive to the loss of slate roofs in the District and generally does not approve such changes. Oftentimes, with the help of a roofer with knowledge and experience with slate roofs, the slate roof can be repaired instead of replaced. For homeowners with a slate roof, this link,, may provide information to aid in any determination to repair or replace your slate roof.

    When proposing a replacement of a roof, a homeowner must supply a sample of any proposed roofing material.


  • Solar Panels

    In general, solar panels are only approved if they cannot be seen from the street. Their design must not change the historic roofline of the house. Homeowners must submit detailed designs of the panels, including placement, exact dimensions, and color of frames and fittings. (Black systems are preferred.) The roof plan layout of the panels should include roof penetrations, such as plumbing vents.

    In some cases, the homeowner may be asked to place a mock-up panel on the roof.


  • Porch, Stair and Deck Railings

    Porch, stair and deck railings that are visible from the street must come before the HPC. In most instances, porch, stair and deck railings must have a top and bottom rail, with the balusters positioned in between. Balusters should not be affixed to the decking or fascia.

    While building code may allow for 4 inch spacing between balusters, for many wood railing designs on an historic building, 2 1/2 inch spacing or less is appropriate. In some cases, an iron or other metal railing is appropriate, in which case the spacing may be different.

    For a "wood" railing, actual wood is the preferred material. However, the HPC has approved certain other composite materials. These are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


  • Large Additions

    An addition must be compatible in design and size to the existing house and the surrounding homes. The HPC pays special attention to the massing of a proposed addition. Massing refers to the size of the addition - both height, shape and footprint. The relationship to the adjacent houses is also important. The site plan must give the dimensions to the nearest corner of neighboring houses.

    The homeowner will very often be asked to bring a rendering of the streetscape or photo montage, showing adjacent houses. These drawings must include the addition and be to scale. Their purpose is to ascertain the appropriateness of the mass of the addition in relation to the adjacent houses.

    Existing and proposed elevations, drawn to scale and accurately dimensioned, for all sides of the house impacted by the change should be presented. Dimensioned floor plans are also necessary to help the HPC interpret the elevations, shape and size of the addition (its "massing").

    Materials must be noted on the drawings and samples included, where appropriate.

    Some homeowners have found it helpful to come before the HPC with preliminary plans for an informal review. For many large additions, it may take a few meetings with either the full HPC, or an HPC subcommittee, to get final approval.


  • Lattice Work

    Lattice work that is visible from the street must come before the HPC. Lattice work, under a porch, for example, must be constructed from wood and should be framed. A large expanse of lattice work should be broken into framed sections.

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