Local Historic District
Historic districts present the strongest form of protection for the preservation of historic properties. Historic districts preserve the context of collections of buildings, they encourage interest in local history, and they limit the destruction of historical architectural contributions. According to the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40C historic districts serve three principle purposes: 1) to preserve and protect distinctive characteristics of significant buildings and places, 2) to maintain and improve the setting of those buildings and places, and 3) to encourage new designs compatible with the existing district.
Old & Historic District
In the United States historic districts did not come about until the 1930s. In 1931 Charleston, South Carolina established an "Old and Historic District" within the city; the first of its kind in America. Some time later, in 1937, the Vieux Carre Commission was created in New Orleans to preserve the French Quarter of the city.
First Historic Districts
The first historic districts in Massachusetts were the Beacon Hill District and the Historic District of Nantucket, both established in 1955. It was in 1960 that Chapter 40C was established within the MA General Law. This allowed for municipalities to establish local historic districts without special approval of state legislature.
Creation of Historical Commission
In March of 1974 the Braintree Town Meeting voted into effect the creation of a Historical Commission for the Town. The vote set provisions for three members of the Commission, appointed by the Board of Selectmen. A year later, in 1975 it was voted during a Town Meeting that the membership of the Commission be increased to five. Finally, in 1980, a Town Meeting voted that the Town amend its by-laws to include Article XIIIA, the Historic District By-Law.
Braintree Town Center Historic District
This by-law established a historic district in Braintree, to be known as the Braintree Town Center Historic District. This District was to be located in the general vicinity of South Braintree Center. The initial goals of establishing such a district in Braintree were as such: "to promote educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through preservation and protection of the distinctive characteristics of buildings and places significant in the history of the Town of Braintree." The initial proposal for the Historic District included these 17 properties in South Braintree Center.