The Board of Selectmen appoints the members of the Historic District Commission/Historical Commission. The Historic District Commission's primary function is to preserve the historic character of the Historic District that is centered on the Town Common and includes portions of High Street, Main Street and Haverhill Road. Owners of property within the District must apply to the Historic District Commission for Certificates of Appropriateness for changes to their property that are visible from the street.
The Historical Commission is concerned with the historical heritage of Topsfield beyond the Historic District. The Historical Commission is responsible for the inventory of historic structures in the Town of Topsfield, administering the Demolition Delay Bylaw, nominating districts and structures for inclusion in the State and National Registries of Historic Places, and for educational activities associated with the historical heritage of Topsfield.
Topsfield has acted to preserve and protect significant buildings and structures of the town by adopting a Demolition Delay By-Law. The intent of the by-law is not to permanently prevent demolition, but rather, to provide an opportunity to develop preservation solutions for properties threatened with demolition through a six month delay in issuing a demolition permit. A complete copy of the by-law is available here.
The National Register is the nation’s official list of building, districts, sites, structures and objects which retain their historical character and are important to our local, state or national history. The National Register was established under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and is administered in the Commonwealth by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Topsfield has six houses listed on the National Register and two National Register Districts: The Topsfield Town Common District (also a local historic district) and the River Road-Cross Street District. The Commission is currently working on a National Historic Register, multiple property nomination on the historic and gentleman farms of Topsfield.