Jefferson City's central business district is included in the Missouri State Capitol Historic District, which has documented historic buildings surviving today. Nine buildings remain from before 1870.

Efforts to preserve Jefferson City’s unique historic and architectural character are approaching a milestone with the pending implementation of a new Historic Preservation Plan.

The city commissioned Heritage Strategies of Birchrunville, PA to gather public input, work with local interest groups, and draft the plan. The resulting 182-page document presents a multi-year action plan for incorporating historic preservation interests and initiatives into the broad range of the City’s programs and initiatives.

The plan has been unanimously approved by the city’s planning and zoning commission and is moving forward to the full city council. If approved by council, it will be incorporated into the city’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan and be part of its building and zoning codes.

Authors of the Historic Preservation Plan began with the following premise:

“Jefferson City offers a wealth of historic resources, which give it individual character and provides its residents with a strong sense of place. This heritage contributes to the City’s identity and generates communal pride. Recognizing and understanding this history is the basis for planning for success in preserving these resources and promoting their value. This includes understanding the value of preservation as an economic development tool.” 

They offered the following vision statement:

“Residents and businesses in Jefferson City recognize the central role that heritage plays in community identity and quality of life. Our attraction to the City is infused with the sense of the City’s landscapes and how they have grown and changed over time – we value the physical and spiritual connections between the places we create today and the places created by our forebears. We view our identity and quality of place as an asset, the cultivation and enhancement of which draws new business, visitors, and residents to our region.”

Five broad goals express how Jefferson City’s historic assets and character relate to the City’s vision for the future. These goals are embodied in the strategies and recommendations of the preservation plan.

Goal 1 – Quality of Place: Reinforce the role of Jefferson City’s historic core as central to the City’s identity and long-term economic development strategy – emphasize quality of place.

Goal 2 – Historic Commercial and Residential Areas: Activate and revitalize Jefferson City’s historic commercial centers and residential neighborhoods as distinctive places for living and investing.

Goal 3 – Citywide Connections: Connect the City’s historic core to its outlying suburban neighborhoods through transportation enhancements, parks, open space, trails, bikeways, programming, public facilities, and other initiatives.

Goal 4 – City Programs and Procedures: Use the City’s historic preservation, neighborhood services, and planning programs strategically to stimulate private investment in the revitalization of historic areas.

Goal 5 – Community Engagement: Actively engage residents and visitors with information, interpretation, and programming that reinforces community identity and tells the City’s stories.

The plan includes the following “high-priority actions”:

▪ Surveys of historic resources: To support ongoing surveys and the ability of surveyors to evaluate the significance of individual properties and districts, prepare a Historic Context for Jefferson City as a whole from its founding to the present.

▪ Design guidelines: Prepare residential historic preservation Design Guidelines for application in designated residential Local Historic Districts, to Local Landmarks, and in historic neighborhoods citywide. These guidelines would be formulated for locally recognized historic properties and districts, but they would also help to formulate design guidelines to be applied in Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts and historic commercial districts and to provide general guidance to owners of historic properties.

▪ Local Landmarks: Enhance the Local Landmarks program with incentives that encourage property owners to join the program.

▪ Historic Preservation Commission: Reinforce the Historic Preservation Commission as the City’s official voice for the protection, enhancement, perpetuation, and use of historically significant properties and districts within Jefferson City.

▪ Relationship to the Comprehensive Plan: Incorporate the Historic Preservation Plan’s vision and goals for community identity and quality of place as organizing concepts for the 2020 Comprehensive Plan update.

▪ Old Town boundaries: Revise “Old Town” boundaries to reinforce historic neighborhoods, in order to clarify branding and identity to help to attract private and public investment. Identifying the boundaries of historic areas will provide regulatory clarity to developers, property investors, and the general public with respect to preservation of historic resources.

▪ Historic neighborhoods: Reinforce the character of historic neighborhoods with updated or new plans, using such policies as zoning and overlay districts, and a variety of other programs.

▪ City procedures: Reinforce the processes of plan examination, permit review, building inspection, and code compliance (involving citizen education in all of these) to support revitalization of historic buildings and neighborhoods.

▪ Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts: Establish a tiered structure of Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts with regulations and guidelines customized to the character of the neighborhood, neighborhood goals for the district’s protection, and level of significance and integrity of its historic buildings and streetscape.

▪ Downzoning to protect historic resources: Pursue downzoning of historic neighborhoods, such as recently accomplished for the Southside neighborhood, where identified by the Comprehensive Plan in order to limit conversion of single-family homes to multi-family properties.

▪ Historic commercial centers: Develop a suite of programs focused on serving all of the City’s Historic Commercial Centers, from downtown Jefferson City to smaller areas that also contribute to neighborhood quality of life.

▪ Heritage tourism: Engage broadly in heritage tourism, from expanding the City’s identity-supporting wayfinding and interpretation, through collaboration among stakeholders that benefit from engaging residents and visitors in storytelling and the arts.

The complete Historic Preservation Plan can be found online at