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The Challenges of Creating & Installing Signage in Historic Districts

Architectural Signage, Branding, Curated Content, Design/Build, Fabrication, Sign Design

Facing a signage project that requires designing a sign package for an existing historic building presents its own unique challenges. You can fit sign programs to the building while still maintaining the business owner’s aesthetic.


Historic sign practices didn’t always take into consideration the buildings on which the signage was used. Sometimes sign styles didn’t complement a building’s unique characteristics. Or the sign designs overshadowed the buildings themselves.

Today’s sign companies face somewhat of a paradox when designing a new sign for a historic building. Updated signage must align with current best practices while also adhering to strict regulations that govern the sign’s design, placement, and style with respect to its historic environment.

The National Park Service (NPS) encourages communities to promote diversity in their signage. Although the City of Boston has very strict requirements for signage design and placement, for example, the NPS does encourage business owners to choose signs reflecting their own tastes, values, and personalities.

One recommendation includes incorporating the original building’s size, scale, and design into new signage. Another point suggests using sign materials compatible with those used in the historic building.

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