Historic & Rural Preservation

Historic Preservation

Recognizing that historic resources are part of what makes Cumberland County a unique place, the County is committed to historic preservation. Historic buildings and landscapes, such as mills, schools and agricultural complexes, tell the narrative about local people, places and events. Historic preservation is often a catalyst for economic development and increased civic involvement. There are many tools to aid historic preservation including surveys, rehabilitation tax credits and educational programs.

Cost-Share Grant

The county received a cost-share grant from the Department of Historic Resources to conduct a survey of all the buildings in the Courthouse village area. The results of this work formed the Cumberland County Historic District, approved by the Department of Historic Resources on June 6, 2007 placing it on the Virginia Landmark Register. The National Park Service also reviewed the findings and added the district to the National Register of Historic Places on August 16, 2007. These designations are honorary listings that will allow property owners to take advantage of rehabilitation tax credits as well as increase tourism to the County.


To continue this successful collaboration, Cumberland County partnered with the Department of Historic Resources and EHT TRACERIES, an architectural history consulting firm located in Washington D.C., in 2008. The goal of the partnership was to prepare draft historic design guidelines for the Cumberland Courthouse Historic District and the entrance corridor on State Route 60 between Cumberland Courthouse and the Powhatan County line. EHT TRACERIES presented their final draft of the historic design guidelines to the Planning Commission in 2009. The next step will be for the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on the use of the guidelines.

The guidelines are intended to assist property owners, architects, builders and county officials in preserving architecture and patterns of the District and Entrance Corridor as well as providing design standards for new development in these areas. Currently these guidelines are voluntary recommendations.

Rural Preservation

Cumberland County's updated Comprehensive Plan is quick to identify the protection and preservation of our rural character.


The County is working to develop several programs to protect rural character. The first to be developed is a purchase of development right (PDR) program where a landowner would sell their property's development rights to the County who would in turn extinguish them and permanently protect the land through a conservation easement. The County adopted this program in 2007. A PDR committee made up of County residents has been established to review applications and help educate landowners about the program.

Other land use tools include conservation subdivisions using clustering and open space (instead of a traditional subdivision where all the land is used up for lots and roads, cluster subdivision allows smaller lots, but require a percentage of the development to be in open and undeveloped land). The County adopted its first cluster subdivision provisions in late 2007. This cluster subdivision is an option in the A-2, Agricultural zoning district and requires 75% of the development to remain undeveloped. The County is also developing a cluster development option for the R-2, Residential zoning district.