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Historic Resources

Burlingame has a rich history as one of the earliest complete communities on the Peninsula. San Francisco residents of the late 1800s wishing to escape the city’s cold, foggy summers built grand estates in Burlingame, where they enjoyed sunny weather and beautiful wooded landscapes. Development proceeded in earnest in the 1890s with establishment of the Burlingame Country Club, construction of a train station, and opening of a U.S. Post Office (all existing in 2017, although the country club is in the neighboring town of Hillsborough and the post office has been closed). The station was constructed in 1893-94 on a route that extended from San Francisco to San Jose and is the first permanent structure in the United States built in the Mission Revival architecture style. By the turn of the century, the area featured many estates owned by families drawn by the proximity of San Francisco and the Burlingame Country Club. The first residential subdivision in the area, the “Town of Burlingame,” was completed in 1896, consisting of hundreds of parcels generally 50 feet wide and 150 feet deep. The settlement grew slowly until 1906, when the San Francisco earthquake and fires forced many people to leave San Francisco in search of new homes. By then, a handful of modest businesses had been established around the train station and Burlingame Square, clearing defining the center of this growing community. By 1908, over a dozen additional subdivisions had been recorded in Burlingame.

Figure CC-2 identifies the four officially designated and historically significant resources in the community (as of 2017): Burlingame Train Station, the Kohl Mansion, Howard-Ralston Eucalyptus Tree Rows (along El Camino Real), and Severn Lodge Dairy Wallscape. In addition to the four officially designated and historically significant resources, Burlingame has a wealth of older building stock, neighborhoods, and tree groves that form the basis of the community’s character. For example, the Francard Tree Groves along the Caltrain tracks are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The following goal and policies ensure that buildings, neighborhoods, districts, and natural areas with historical significance to the Burlingame community are protected and celebrated so they can remain defining community features that preserve a community character for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. 

A comprehensive survey was prepared for Downtown, and the information and findings in the survey, as it may be updated periodically, will inform historic preservation strategies within Downtown.

Goal: CC-3

Protect the character and quality of Burlingame’s historical buildings, tree groves, open spaces, neighborhoods, and districts.

Maintain up-to-date comprehensive surveys for officially designated historic districts and neighborhoods in Burlingame. 

Master Plans Studies and Reports

Evaluate options for identifying potential historic resources, both to allow property owners to utilize historic preservation incentives and as a consideration in development review. 

Development Review Studies and Reports

When a structure is deemed to have historic significance, use the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings when evaluating development applications and City projects, or development applications that may affect scenic views or the historic context of nearby historic resources. 

Development Review Master Plans

Maintain flexible land use standards to allow the adaptive reuse of identified historical buildings with a variety of economically viable uses while minimizing impacts to the historical value and character of sites and structures.

Development Review Master Plans

Identify opportunities to establish National Park Service Certified Historic Districts to encourage the preservation of Burlingame’s historical neighborhoods and districts, and to qualify property owners for the Federal Preservation Tax Incentives Program. 

Financing and Budgeting Agency Coordination Partnerships with the Private Sector Public Information and Education

Promote the use of the State Historic Building Code to facilitate the reuse and conversion of historical buildings to alternative uses. 

Development Review Master Plans Services and Operations

Participate in the California Mills Act Property Tax Abatement Program to provide property owners of historical resources an economic incentive (property tax relief) to restore, preserve, and maintain qualified historic properties. 

Master Plans Financing and Budgeting Agency Coordination Partnerships with the Private Sector

Promote the use of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program to encourage the rehabilitation of income-producing historical structures in Burlingame. 

Public Information and Education

Promote the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program to encourage the charitable contribution of historical resources and the establishment of conservation easements for historic preservation purposes. 

Public Information and Education

Prohibit the demolition of officially designated historical resources unless one of the following findings can be made:

  • The rehabilitation and reuse of the resource is not structurally or economically feasible.
  • The demolition is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
  • The public benefits of demolition outweigh the loss of the historical resource. 
Development Review Partnerships with the Private Sector

Protect, maintain, and manage Burlingame’s historic eucalyptus groves and other heritage trees in a healthy, safe, and efficient manner so they remain an important part of the community.

Development Review Master Plans