Town and Village Preservation

Because many of Chester County's historic buildings are concentrated in the county's 16 urban centers or 80 villages, preservation of these areas is crucial for maintaining the county's historic character and quality of place.

Town Preservation

Generally, the county's many towns have maintained their existing historic character while also accommodating new growth and development that fits in with these walkable, mixed-use centers. These towns should take advantage of all of the normal historic preservation tools available to local municipalities, including historic property inventories, municipal historic commissions, national register historic districts, preservation-focused zoning, and Act 167 historic districts.

Main Street

For downtown areas in particular, it is critical to have zoning in place that requires new development to match historic character. The planning commission's Urban Center Landscapes Design Guide provides recommendations and local examples for achieving this type of town zoning.

In addition, many downtown areas use Main Street Programs to bolster their downtowns and improve their economic vitality. The planning commission's Main Street eTools provide guidance on how towns can use a Main Street Program in their planning and revitalization efforts.

Village Preservation

The county's villages are one of its defining characteristics, yet many villages have simply disappeared over time or become unrecognizable because of encroaching development. Preservation of these villages is a critical element of overall preservation efforts.

Over the years, the planning commission has prepared two village guides. The first, titled Village Planning Handbook: A Guide for Community Planning, was published in 1993. This Handbook focuses on the history of villages, issues to consider when planning for villages, and processes for conducting a village planning program. Municipalities that are just getting started on their village preservation efforts should consult this Handbook.

Village Preservation Guide

A newer guide, titled Village Preservation Guide, published in 2024 provides specific guidance for village planning, using many local municipal planning documents and initiatives as examples. It also provides detailed design guidance, using local municipal zoning ordinances as examples. The guide is full of pictures, maps, drawings, and ordinance citations from nearby villages that demonstrate that village preservation can be very successful in Chester County.