General Information
General Information
Historic Preservation Commission
Judy Decker
Historic Preservation Commission
Compliance Officer
Bruce Britton
Planning Board/Zoning Board
Board Secretary
Karen Keenan
Shade Tree
Connie Anderson
Environmental Commission
Meryl Nelson
643 Washington Street
Cape May,

Historic Design Standards

Historic Design Standards

Exterior Cladding
Porch & Entrance
Sites & Streetscape
Storefront & Signage
Mechanical & Utility Equipment
Flood Mitigation
New Construction
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The Cape May Historic Design Standards are an official document created by the Historic Preservation Commission to supplement The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Design Standards apply to all structures within the Historic District and designated sites on the Zoning Map.

The Historic Design Standards safeguard historic buildings by guiding property owners and professionals. They address the concern of inappropriate modifications to character-defining architectural elements, which can undermine the integrity of the Historic District. While the Design Standards reflect Cape May's unique character, they may not cover every situation. Instead, they offer a framework for property owners, professionals, and the HPC to evaluate each project individually and develop solutions that align with the intent of the historic preservation ordinance.

Historic Design Standards


Do not…

    Provide up-front guidance to property owners and qualified professionals

    Advance the historic character of the Historic District

    Prioritize design considerations and encourage appropriate alterations

    Improve quality and integrity of construction projects

    Preserve Cape May’s historic character

    Foster civic pride and awareness of Cape May’s history

    Provide criteria to consider prior to demolition

    Enumerate specific standards or regulations for construction (Uniform Construction Code)

    Increase new construction or rehabilitation activities

    Regulate the density or location of development (Planning Board)

    Improve property maintenance (local ordinances)

    Regulate interior design

    Define business hours or means of operation (local ordinances)

Survey Status

Properties in the Cape May Historic District are classified as either contributing or non-contributing depending on their age and historic character. The HPC reviews projects affecting both types and has developed stricter standards for contributing properties to maintain their historic integrity. The HPC Office maintains a list of contributing and non-contributing properties by address.



A building that meets specific criteria for historical significance within the Cape May Historic District, specifically:

  • Was present during the Historic District's period of significance (approximately 1750 to 1948)

  • Retains its historic character, meaning that its architectural style and features are still intact and have not been significantly altered

  • Contributes to the overall historic significance of the Historic District, either by representing an important period of history or by being associated with a person or event of historical significance

A building, site, structure, or object that does not add to the historic architectural qualities, historic associations, or archaeological values for which a property is significant because it:

  • Was not present during the period of significance; 

  • Due to alterations, disturbances, additions or other changes it no longer possesses historic integrity reflecting its character at that time or is incapable of yielding important information about the period; 

  • Does not independently meet the National Register criteria.

What's my property's survey status?