Historic Preservation

Arcata, first known as Union, was settled in the spring of 1850 as a supply center for the interior mining districts. The townsite at the foot of Fickle Hill was selected by the Union Company and subdivided into blocks and lots. Timber resources sustained the development of Arcata through the 19th century and into the mid-twentieth century. A public water system and fire department came along in 1884, followed by the Arcata Union newspaper in 1886, electricity in 1895, railroad connections with San Francisco in 1914, the establishment of Humboldt State Normal School (now Humboldt State University) in 1914, and the Redwood Highway in 1925. By 1930 Arcata's population had reached 1,700 and was growing.

Many fine examples of both residential and commercial structures from Arcata's early history survive today. The Plaza itself, with the statue of McKinley (1906) at its center, dates from the town's beginnings, and recalls the "greens" of New England or the town squares of the south. An inventory of Arcata's historical structures and sites identified four early periods of residential building styles: settlement (1850-1885) Victorian (1885-1900), Transitional (1900-1910) and Craftsman (1910-1930), in addition to the modern period (1930-present). The City's first historic preservation ordinance [Ordinance No. 935] was adopted by the City Council in 1980. Since that time, 85 structures or sites have been formally designated by ordinance as local historic landmarks.


Van Kirk, Susie. Reflections of Arcata’s History: eighty years of architecture. 1979 January. Bug Press: Arcata.

Van Kirk, Susie. Introduction to Bayview Neighborhood Survey. Spring 2006. Historic Research and Documentation, College of the Redwoods: Eureka.


Zoning Administrator Determination: Period of Significance

Click to view Arcata's Architectural Styles and Eras