What makes a Lakeland home historic?

There are both benefits and strict guidelines for homes in Lakeland’s seven historic districts.

A historic home with striped awnings and a gable roof

This historic house was home to former Lakeland mayor Edward L. Mack.

Photo via Florida Memory

If the words balustrade, modillion, or porte-cochere mean anything to you, you may be part of the 6% of Lakelanders who live in historic homes. These houses hold a key to our city’s past through architecture, culture, and character — and yours could be the next one designated historic.

Lakeland has seven historic districts: Munn Park, Dixieland, South Lake Morton, East Lake Morton, Beacon Hill, Lake Hunter Terrace, and Biltmore/Cumberland.

The City of Lakeland recently resurveyed the South and East Lake Morton historic districts before moving on to the remaining five. Through this survey, more homes can be registered as historic properties. Homes built before 1973 may now be eligible for the designation, whereas only homes built before 1940 and 1942 were eligible in two previous surveys.

Mediterranean Revival style historic home in the Biltmore/Cumberland district of Lakeland, FL

This Mediterranean Revival home was built around 1925.

Photo via Florida Memory

Homes in historic districts can be considered “contributing structures” if they are at least 50 years old and have a distinct and authentic architectural style based on the time of construction. Each district is home to historic architecture styles like the Bungalow and Mediterranean Revival.

Living in a historic home can have benefits like higher property values, environmental sustainability, and walkability. It also comes with a fair share of design guidelines — enforced by the Historic Preservation Board — which assesses current structures and exterior modifications according to the Design Guidelines for Historic Properties.

Historic home in Biltmore-Cumberland district of Lakeland, FL

This Biltmore/Cumberland historic home features a porte-cochere (aka a covered driveway).

Photo via Florida Memory

If you own a historic home and want to alter its exterior, your plans must be approved by the Board. That includes changes to:

  • Roofs and chimneys
  • Porches and front doors
  • Windows, shutters, and awnings
  • Siding and paint colors
  • House numbers and historical markers

Want to get a closer look at what these historic properties bring to Lakeland? Check out this interactive map of the seven historic districts, and take a self-guided walking tour of the Munn Park district.

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