Much of the City of Jefferson has been designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. The
listing on the National Register, however, does not provide any land-use controls on historic buildings or properties. In
recognition of Jefferson’s historic character, local districts have been created to encourage the preservation of her
past. The creation of location historic districts allows the Historic Preservation Commission to use the Design Guideline
Review process to promote preservation, proper rehabilitation and compatible new construction in the historic districts of
The six historic districts in Jefferson are:
The Downtown district
covers several city blocks, from North Avenue to Lee Street, from Sycamore Street to Kissam Street, and all of the downtown
square. The commercial area of town has always been centered on the town square. The buildings on the square occupy the
same lots that were laid out when the town was first planned in 1806-07. Jefferson’s central business district became
well-established by the Civil War and the governmental and legal center of the community. Most of the stores presently
surround the square were built between 1890 and 1910. In 1894 a large fire destroyed many of the buildings on the south
side of the square. During the rebuild, brick became the material of choice. All of the buildings built in the late
19th century were built with Italianate style influence with recessed storefronts and arched corbelled brick window surrounds
in the second story. While some of the buildings have lost their original storefronts, the details on the second stories remain
intact. (add something about the Ethridge-Gurley House circa 1836)
area is located just to the east of Washington Street and includes houses on Martin Street, Institute Street, Church Street
and Storey Street. There are several architectural styles of houses represented in this district; among those are Folk Victorian
and Queen Anne. The Queen Anne style was the most popular style in the late 19th century. This style is characterized
by its asymmetrical form and the variety of details such as decorative detailing on porches, cornices doors and windows. The
roof is usually steeply pitched and broken up into gables, hips and projecting towers or bays. The porches are sometimes elaborately
detailed with brackets, spindle work and turned balustrades. Doors with sidelights and transoms are common. Thirty-seven
percent of all historic structures in Jefferson are Queen Anne influenced residences. The Folk Victorian style borrows
details from the Queen Anne style but the features are not as elaborate as in the Queen Anne. Porch supports were usually
turned spindles or square beams with beveled corners. Details such as decorative gables, simply trimmed window trim and
brackets under the eaves are also characteristic of the Folk Victorian.
This district, although largest in land, has the smallest number of structures contained within its borders.
House styles on Oak Avenue are simple, Gabled Ell and Bungalow. The Gabled Ell house was built primarily between 1870
and 1920 and consisted of a gabled front house with a side extension called a wing or an ell. The extension was an integral
part of the house. The Bungalow refers to a cottage that is rectangular in shape and has an irregular floor plan. This
style accounts for nineteen percent of the historic structures in Jefferson. Details seen in the Bungalow house are low
pitched gable roofs, wide eaves with support brackets, multi-light windows and porches with tapered columns. Craftsman style
details were often added to the bungalow house.
Residences constructed in the building boom of the late 19th century were
built on the hillside north of downtown along Washington and Lawrenceville Streets. The Queen Anne style was popular in small
rural communities like Jefferson and emphasized decorative detailing on porches, cornices, doors and windows. For more
information on the Queen Anne style, please refer to the Martin-Cooley Street information.
was added as a historic district in 1986.