A visual display banner for the project showing historic buildings in Thornton.

Thornton's Historic Preservation Plan (HPP) Project Page

Project Background

To guide future and on-going historic preservation efforts, the city of Thornton is seeking to create a Historic Preservation Plan (HPP). The Historic Preservation Plan will provide a short and long-term vision of what preservation means to the community. The Plan is used to guide and align public and private investments in Thornton's historic landmarks with the shared vision and values of the community, and to provide policy direction on how to best preserve Thornton's history and cultural landscapes. The HPP will establish goals, major strategies, recommended surveying actions to identify historic properties, and key policies related to Thornton's historic landmarks to ensure preservation of historic buildings and landscapes across the City. 

To learn more about some Thornton's Historic Places of Interest you may review a mapping presentation prepared by City Development staff. 

Seeking Certified Local Government Status 

On June 15, 2021, Thornton City Council gave direction to Thornton staff to seek Certified Local Government (CLG) status; Thornton currently does not fulfill all the requirements to become a CLG. To learn more about CLG requirements you may read more at the State's Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) webpage.  Thornton currently has an adopted Historic Recognition process – adopted in 2012 – but it does not fufill the CLG requirements. It's the intent of this project to create a historic preservation program and explore what that means to the community. In part, the Historic Preservation Plan will help guide future efforts in becoming a Certified Local Government.    

Project Context

To better understand Thornton's history and cultural landscapes, it will be important to identify specific areas of historic context to better understand how to make decisions about the identification, evaluation, registration, and treatment of historic properties (for example: Mid-century Modern Architecture). Information about historic properties representing aspects of history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture must be collected and organized to define these relationships. This organizational framework is called a historic context. The historic context organizes information based on a cultural theme and its geographical and chronological limits.

The historic preservation plan will consider all land within the Thornton city limits for various, additional historic context studies.  Examples of projects that represent specific historical context studies could include things like the Original Thornton Pattern Book; or another example of a historic context study could include the Eastlake Historic Buildings Survey. Contexts describe the significant broad patterns of development in an area that may include historic properties. 

Thornton's History

Thornton incorporated as a municipality in 1956, around the time of a big regional population boom occurring post-World War II.  This project will also consider the history prior to Thornton's incorporation. Prior to incorporation, most of the land served as unincorporated agricultural land or small rural railroad towns, such as Eastlake. Further, prior to settlement and the Colorado Gold Rush, the Thornton area was home to several Native American tribes.

Learn more about Thornton's history since incorporation in 1956.

Review the city's existing historic recognition programming that has been active since 2012. 

Estimated Project Schedule 

Estimated Timeframe Project Phase Community Outreach
January - April  2023  (complete)
Phase A: Project Initiation and Orientation
Community Open House #1 was held on April 5, 2023. To access the presentation or recording of the presentation, you may select the links on the right sidebar under the title "Community Meeting Presentations" group. 
March - December 2023 (underway)
Phase B: Historic Context Study
Community Open House #2An in-person Community Open House was held on August 2, 2023. To access the presentation you may select the links on the right sidebar under the title "Community Meeting Presentations" group. 

Community Interviews (on-going)
April - December 2023 (completed)
Phase C: Historic Preservation Goals
Advisory Group Meeting - The first advisory group meeting was held on July 31, 2023. To access the materials provided at t you may select the links on the right sidebar under the title "Project Documents" group; documents referencing "Historic Context" were provided at this meeting.

Focus Groups (Completed)
Online Survey (Completed) 
January 2024 - June 2024 (underway)
Phase D: Recommendations and Prioritized Implementation Schedule 
Advisory Group Meeting - An in-person Advisory Group meeting held on January 10, 2024. To access the materials reviewed at this meeting, you may select the links on the right sidebar under the title "Project Documents" group; documents referencing "Chapter 3" were provided at this meeting. 

Summer 2024
Phase E: Plan Acceptance & Prioritization for Implementation and Phasing
Advisory Group Meeting
Community Meeting

Project Outcomes

It is anticipated that the creation of the Thornton Historic Preservation Plan will result in the following outcomes:

  • A broad overview and historic context study of Thornton
  • Creation of historic preservation goals and priorities through community outreach
  • A prioritized and phased list recommending further research, including specific historic context studies and historic resource surveys to undertake
  • Recognition of Thornton's historic character and cultural landscapes to support Thornton's work to enhance its sense of place

Stay Informed

The city will be providing opportunities for community members to be involved throughout the process. Information about the project and ways in which the community can participate will posted on this webpage as the plan progresses.

To be added to the project mailing list please email the Long Range Planning Division at the email LongRange.Planning@thorntonco.gov; or call 303.538.7295.  

Project Documents
Community Meeting Presentations
Advisory Focus Group