Red Lodge, MT Historic District Overlays
Historic preservation programs and policies have gained support in the past generation. This development is due to communities desire to embrace their heritage, connect with history to create a sense of permanence, reap economic success that often flows from historic preservation, and enhance residents’ quality of life.
The City of Red Lodge is a gateway community for Yellowstone National Park via the scenic Beartooth Highway in southern Montana. It is the county seat for Carbon County and boasts a rich and colorful history. In the early 1990’s, Red Lodge began to experience the first impacts of the rapid growth that was to hit many western amenity communities through the 1990’s and 2000’s. Citizens concerned about how change would impact their community’s character and quality of life began working together to protect those values. In 1997, the City of Red Lodge unanimously passed the Red Lodge Development Code, a series of zoning ordinances uncommon in Montana at that time, which would govern land use planning in the community. In September of 2006, the Red Lodge Development Code was amended and adopted once again.
Within the Code, two zoning overlays were included to protect the historic value and character of the downtown commercial district, through the Commercial Historic District Overlay, and a residential neighborhood, Hi Bug Historic District, featuring historic Victorian-style architecture. The boundaries for these historic areas were defined in 1986, when the original districts were established, but the Development Code creates additional requirements for design procedures and standards for new development or major alterations to existing buildings within the overlay zone.
The design review standards for the Commercial Historic District Overlay include provisions related to:
- Maximum front yard setbacks
- Exterior materials on buildings
- Bulkheads or kickplates
- Recessed entry doors
- Ground floor window space
- Minimum ground floor height
- Upper floor window treatments
- Parapet treatments
- Color of the buildings
Applications for new buildings and major alterations are referred to the Carbon County Historic Preservation Officer for review and comment.
By virtue of being a gateway community to Yellowstone, Red Lodge is popular tourist destination. The City’s appreciation for its past and its strong historic preservation efforts have also paid off in securing its niche as a destination for “Old West” history buffs and enthusiasts. Numerous buildings within the town are on the National Historic Register, the Carbon County Historical Society Museum has located in the downtown area, and several walking tours through the Hi Bug neighborhood and the historic downtown are offered. Red Lodge, Montana has also recently been named a “distinctive destination” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Additional information on this case study:
City of Red Lodge
Beartooth Front Community Forum
Red Lodge Development Code, Ch. 5 - Zoning Districts and Overlays (61.72 kB)
Red Lodge Development Code, Ch. 7 - Design Review (53.28 kB)
Red Lodge Official Zoning Map (4.87 MB)
Hi Bug Historic District Overlay (338.89 kB)
Category: Cultural and Natural Resource Assets
Issue: Historic Preservation Policies
Community Type: Amenity
Location: Red Lodge, MT
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