Mark your Territory with a Neighborhood Historical Marker Program

historical marker plaque for the city of clawson michigan

Older homes exist around the USA in every city. For our purposes, we’ll define a historic home as one with a build date of 100 years ago or more. It may be stereotypical to say historical neighborhoods are nothing new. But when the age and architectural styles of the homes in your neighborhood have historical significance, what can you do to differentiate your community from others like it or those in bordering areas?

In this 2-part series, I’ll first explore the idea of creating a neighborhood brand using cast aluminum and bronze historical markers and how a program can be beneficial to the association. In part 2 of the series, we’ll delve into the upgrade of street and way-finding signage to create curb appeal that will truly set your historic district apart from nearby areas.

What is a historical marker?

hall of fame landmark plaque made of bronze with seal for myrtle beach

A national landmark. It usually reflects an event or an incident in an existing location. Often when we hear about monuments and historical buildings, these plaques are helpful in reminding people of their life experiences. In this post, we are referring to historical markers for neighborhoods, usually marking the age of a home and containing an insignia of the organization that verifies its accuracy.

How to create historical markers that brand your district

Knowing how to specify a marker before making purchase decisions involves a little education. Note that higher satisfaction with the product is the end result when learning about choices, making it well worth the effort.

Choose a design

high quality bronze historical marker plaque for heritage square historic district

Most manufacturers of cast aluminum and bronze plaques will provide free design services to help with this process. With a few pieces of information, a designer can make your idea a reality.

Size and Shape

Decide on the size of your historical markers: Small (6”-8”), medium (10”-12”), or large (14”-16”). Small sizes are more economically priced, but medium and large sizes will be more noticeable from a distance. Then choose from a variety of historical marker shapes including circle, square, oval, rectangle, or a hybrid of two or more shapes.


Cast bronze or cast aluminum (or both)? Satin bronze has a reddish tone and will blend best with earth tones such as brown or red. Satin aluminum has a silver tone and looks great against more modern colors such as gray, black, and white. The material used for your historical markers can depend on home styles or desired longevity as well.

Mounting Style

personalized landmark plaque, historical family farm, decorative post with hanger arm mount

How will the marker attach to the building or be displayed? The wall mount is very popular. The plaque screws directly into the front surface of the home’s exterior. Lawn stakes or a short post mounted in the ground is also a good choice for better visibility by passersby.

Marker Emblem or Insignia and Specific Wording

Decide what information will be included and/or changeable from one order to the next. The association or community name, emblem or insignia, and established or build date are popular choices. Typically, each historical marker will have one changeable aspect, usually the build date: 1926 or c. 1926 if the year is unknown or in doubt.


bronze historic marker, double border, story of landmark,  black background, satin polished raised finish

What color scheme will best suit the home’s style? There are virtually endless color choices for cast plaques, but sometimes keeping it simple has the best result. Black with a satin aluminum or satin bronze finish is a timeless option, but there are many more.

If your design decision is made by a committee, department, or board, be sure to offer 3 to 4 complementary designs to find choices that everyone will be happy with, regardless of the final choice.

Choose a Manufacturer

With your approved design in hand, find the plaque manufacturer that best suits the project. Factors to consider:


Remember the lowest price is not always what it seems.

Lead time

How quickly will the historical markers be shipped after order approval?


Always ask for a sample to inspect manufacturer quality prior to a final decision and to be sure that the chosen size is optimal for your project. The sample can also be used in photographs for marketing purposes.

Ease of ordering

Does the manufacturer provide a portal for individual homeowners to quickly place an order and pay online?

Funding or Raising Funds from the Effort


Fundraisers that recognize your efforts are best discussed and decided on by the association board. It is common to raise funds for the effort itself or use the marker's presence to fund future association endeavors. There are numerous possibilities:

  • Charge a small markup on the original cost of your historic markers. This can raise a considerable amount depending on the number of potential customers in your community.

  • Conduct for-fee heritage tours to fund the initial sign purchase.

  • Connect with your local historical society for a contribution or free advertising.

  • Get the word out at important events in your town, providing education about the significance that each marker represents in the history of your part of the county.

Grant Opportunities

Working with community heritage and historic preservation groups, you may be able to find and apply for grants to help preserve and market your district's state history.

Making Your Historical Marker Program a Reality

Advertise & Publicize

Make it known that your historical marker project is kicking off on a specific date. Create hype and urgency by setting an end date and time to 'take advantage of the special discounted price.' Choose several avenues to get the word out to all homeowners: Facebook Group posts, community association flyers, or even word of mouth.

Place Your First Order

Once you’ve gathered information for an initial batch, you’re ready to place your first order. Typically, the initial order will kick off with multiple homeowners buying together as a group. A small discount may be provided by the manufacturer for the efficiency of casting multiple plaques at the same time.

Install the markers

The markers can be delivered to homeowners directly or in bulk to a central location for pick up. Physical installation instructions will be provided by the plaque manufacturer. The location for each home's marker display may be predetermined by the association board. For example, installation directly to the right of the front entrance door, or above the front door.

Reap the rewards

Although the initial order is of course only the beginning, a sense of pride will increase as plaques begin to go up throughout the neighborhood. Curb appeal just went up a notch. The funds raised through the sales of your historical markers can be utilized to generate more excitement by announcing a special project that all can enjoy. A block party, a community picnic, or a donation to a local parks and recreation organization are all great ideas.

For Internet-savvy members of your association, you may be able to register your markers on various maps describing state historical markers and other historical landmarks. These sites often bring people into your county that are interested in its history, stories, and the arts.

Historical markers increase awareness and historical significance of neighborhoods and add a boost to their vitality and integrity. The markers can also serve as a traffic calming measure since people slow down to read them in the first place, and then admire them when driving by more frequently.

Do you understand your local history? Historical sites and markers provide a great way to discover local history. Traditionally, historical markers offer an excellent educational tool for the public.

Keep it going

After a few neighbors install their individual markers, the best advertising of all begins: neighbor envy. Create lifestyle images like the ones shown in this blog to show the product installed in its native environment and watch the interest snowball. Extend an open invitation for future purchases of your marker design directly through contact with the manufacturer. Make the marker available at a “one at a time” purchase price with a link to the manufacturer's online portal. Customers can pay by credit card and receive their plaque within just a few short weeks.

History Happened Here

The historical markers displayed on homes represent an important story of the location. They indicate how much importance communities maintain for their historic sites and heritage. They are historic signposts.

History is not all about the rich and powerful, nor about embellishing what happened for the sake of pretentiousness. Historical markers are the people telling the truth. Each marker describes a storythe history happened here. If a house could tell its stories and remember people, their personalities, jobs, and daily lives from past decades, then the great significance of its history would leave a legacy for all to enjoy. Markers are a window into this world.


A lasting impression is also one of the most important aspects of a historical home. If you live in Michigan, you are eligible to apply for a Michigan Milestone Award. These are prestigious state historical markers. This beautiful awardauthorized by the Historical Society of Michigan—celebrates the history and special status of your organization, business, or municipality. State historical markers might be available in other states, or design and purchase your own as outlined above.

A symbol to commemorate and preserve your neighborhood's beautiful architecture is also available at a reasonable price from Signature Streetscapes. Custom handcrafted historical markers are a delightful monument at first sight and every time thereafter when you and your family come home.


About Steve Snuffer

photo of author, Steve Snuffer, Sales Manager at Signature Streetscapes

Steve has worked in the architectural sign industry for 31 years beginning in operations and focusing most recently on sales. His knowledge of project management, design, quality and fulfillment gives our clients peace of mind throughout their entire experience. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University.