The Historic Preservation Commission has recently completed an architectural and historical survey of the community. To learn more about the survey, click on the following:

River Forest is an historic community committed to protecting, preserving and promoting its rich heritage. Structures in River Forest include historical styles such as Gothic Revival, Victoria, Prairie School, Tudor Revival, Bungalows, Buurma Built, Art Deco, and Moderne.  Some of these homes were designed by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, William Drummond, Spencer and Powers, E.E. Roberts, and their contemporaries.

See below for additional information regarding historic preservation including:

  Historic Preservation Ordinance

The Village's Historic Preservation Ordinance establishes the Historic Preservation Commission, identifies the landmark designation and certificate of appropriateness process, and requires the review of Significant Properties for which repair, rehab, reconstruction, restoration, or demolition is proposed prior to permit approval. 

Click here to view the Historic Preservation Ordinance.

Building Permits for Landmark and Significant Properties


Significant Properties 

In accordance with Section 13-1-7 of the Village Code, no repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, restoration, demolition, improvement or signage involving more than 20% of any individual street facade or any window replacement of a facade viewable from the street of any significant property will be initiated, nor will any building, window, or demolition permits be issued for such work, until the Historic Preservation Commission is notified of the proposed work, including a description of the scope of work, and the conditions below are met.  Said 20% is based upon the total footprint of any street facade viewable from the street as measured in linear feet. 

The Historic Preservation Commission has 45 days from the submission of a complete building permit application or both architectural elevations and a foundation plan, whichever is earlier, to review the proposed work.  During the review period, the Commission will advise the applicant of any recommendations it has regarding the proposed work. The Commission typically conducts the review at its next regularly scheduled meeting.  These meetings are open to the public and owners are encouraged to attend.  The recommendations of the Commission are advisory, are not binding and the proposed work may proceed once the 45 day period has expired or the Commission's recommendations have been received, whichever comes first.  The owner may request a meeting with the Commission to discuss a previous recommendation.

Landmark Properties

Repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, restoration, demolition, improvement or signage involving more than 20% of any individual street facade or any window replacement of a street facade requires a certificate of appropriateness. Please review the Historic Preservation Ordinance for definitions, construction and design standards, additional provisions and information regarding economic hardship waivers.  The Commission has 45 days from the submission of a complete application to review the proposed work.  A complete application includes:

  1. The applicant's name or the owner's name if different from the applicant;
  2. Street address and legal description of the site;
  3. A site plan and front, side and rear elevation drawings;
  4. A brief description and photographs (both current and historic, if available) of the structure(s), building(s), and landscape features on the site;
  5. A detailed description of the proposed alteration or demolition, together with pictorial renditions indicating how and to what extent such proposed changes will affect the subject property;
  6. Identification of any architect or developer involved in the project;
  7. Such other relevant information as requested by the Village Administrator or as the Commission may require

Questions?  Please contact the Village Hall for more information.

Significant Properties

The Historic Preservation Commission has designated 298 homes as Significant Properties. Any construction work on these properties must be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. While the Commission cannot prevent construction or alter proposed plans, the Commission has 45 days to review the application and make recommendations in order to preserve the historical and architectural significance of the property and neighborhood.

Click here to see if your home is on the Significant Property list

Landmark Designation

Below are documents outlining the landmark designation process.

Historic District

River Forest has a locally established historic district. The district stretches irregularly from the east at Harlem Avenue to the west at the Des Plaines River and from Division Street to the north to Washington Boulevard and comprises approximately 860 properties.

Click here to view a map of the historic district.

Historic Preservation Resources

Financial Incentives

There are a variety of federal, state and local financial incentives available to property owners who renovate in a historically sensitive manner. Please click here to find more information about the programs available.  

Historic Preservation Award 

The River Forest Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) supports and encourages homeowners, builders and other professionals who help preserve the historic character of our Village. An awards program was established by the Commission in 2009 in order to support these efforts, and the HPC is currently accepting applications for the 2015 Historic Preservation Awards.  Nominations must be received on or before June 12, 2015.  For more information and to complete the nomination form click here.