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City of Lowell > Planning and Development > Development Services > Historic Board > Signs, Awnings, and Storefront Maintenance
Signs, Awnings, and Storefront Maintenance
Signs, Awnings, and Storefront Maintenance 


Signs are one of the most prominent visual elements of a street.  If well designed, they add interest and variety to building facades and attract customers.  On the other hand, if erected without care, signs can detract from even the most attractive storefront or building.  Well-designed and fabricated signage can promote business, attract foot and vehicular traffic, and enhance a business’ image while at the same time, meet the requirements for the Downtown Lowell Historic District (DLHD) and Acre Neighborhood District (AND).  Specific design requirements can be found in the design review standards for both the DLHD and AND.

Historically used on many commercial buildings in Lowell, operable fabric awnings serve both functional and decorative needs.  They were common in early Lowell where shop windows faced the sun and were primarily intended to protect shoppers and window displays from intense sunlight.  Prior to the widespread use of air conditioning, awnings served an extremely functional role by keeping the interiors of structures shaded from the heat of the sun.  Consistent with their historic functional purpose, awnings are only allowed on sunny sides of streets and must be operable/retractable so that they may be used as-needed on a daily basis to shield from sun and allow closing in windy weather.  Please check the Board's awning policy for specific design requirements.

Upkeep of storefronts, proper signage, and uncluttered windows has a very positive affect for businesses, downtowns, and communities in general.  Nonconforming signage as well as cluttered and poorly maintained storefronts turn off potential customers and creates a poor impression of not only the business but the downtown in general.  Check out the Sense of Place, Sense of Pride brochure for several do's and don'ts.

Please note that before any signage or awnings are fabricated and installed within the DLHD and AND, that plans must first be approved by the Board and an Historic Permit issued.  The best way to determine if the work you're contemplating requires Historic Board review is to contact the Board's staff.  The Board and its staff are always available to assist with any questions regarding design and process.