Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

0 - Cover Photo - Old Sciota Mill

February 10, 2016
by Guest Contributor

Getting High-Tech to Identify Monroe County’s Flood-Prone Historic Places

by Vanessa Zeoli, AECOM Technical Services

A potentially trendsetting countywide survey has just been completed in the floodplains of Monroe County, in the heart of the Pocono Mountains region of northeastern Pennsylvania, identifying all flood-prone historic properties there and laying the groundwork for the development of strategies to better protect the county’s historic built environment from future flood damage. Continue Reading →


February 3, 2016
by Guest Contributor

Pennsylvania At Risk 2016

Preservation Pennsylvania has announced the addition of 8 properties to Pennsylvania At Risk, the list of sites determined to be among the most endangered historic resources in the Commonwealth.  The sites were selected from nominations submitted by the public in 2015 and will become Preservation Pennsylvania’s work priorities in 2016. Continue Reading →

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January 27, 2016
by Shelby Weaver Splain

2016’s First SHPO Shout-Out

The internet tells me that 45% of all Americans make News Year’s resolutions. The top ones – which I think we’ve all made at one time or another – are to be happier, healthier, and more organized. A psychologist friend tells me that one of the ways to be happier and healthier is to manage your stress. Well, duh, right? This same friend also tells me one way to do that is to all seek out good news to balance all of the bad news in our world. I’m sure you’re all thinking, “well, that’s great, Shelby, but why are you talking about this in a SHPO Shout-Out post?” I’m talking about it because the SHPO Shout-Out is all about good news! A well-known TV talk show doctor even says sharing good news boosts your mood. I’m no doctor or expert on these matters, but it seems like taking just a few minutes to read this post and think about all the wonderful things happening in our communities can help reduce your stress level and – like icing on a cake – if you share it with others you might just be happier, too!

Continue Reading →

Germantown Avenue Corridor.  Photo by Monique Brand courtesy of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

January 20, 2016
by Guest Contributor

Heart + Soul + Humanities: Stronger Civic Engagement in PA!

by Mimi Ijima, Pennsylvania Humanities Council

In 2015, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council launched a partnership with the Orton Family Foundation to help Pennsylvania communities engage in meaningful civic and engagement and community planning using the Foundation’s successful Community Heart & Soul™ planning method. Community Heart & Soul is a tried and tested process that empowers people to shape the future of their communities. The “heart and soul” of this process are the humanities which unearths vital values and concerns and brings people together to create a shared sense of belonging.  Key to the process is learning what matters most to the community through gathering stories from and engaging as many residents as possible, including those who don’t typically participate in public processes. Stories are data with soul!  With storytelling at the heart of planning and development, local values and voices become the foundation for building communities that are connected, innovative, competitive, and strong. Continue Reading →


January 13, 2016
by Jim Vaughan

Preservation50: Celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act

Ah, 1966… A gallon of gas costs 32 cents… the Dow Jones reaches a high of 950… Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California… Star Trek premieres on NBC and leads us into the final frontier… Robert Venturi’s observation on modernist architecture – Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture – is published… AND the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 is passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Continue Reading →

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January 6, 2016
by Shelby Weaver Splain

Looking Backward and Forward

2015 went by so quickly that we didn’t even have time to put together our traditional “Year in Review” post! Since we’re in the first week of 2016 already, I’ll give you a quick look at the PA SHPO’s 2015 highlights and a glimpse into some of the great things we have in store for you in 2016.

Continue Reading →

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commision Logo

January 4, 2016
by Shelby Weaver Splain

Special Announcement!

Great Things in Store for 2016!

I am happy to share some exciting news…

We are now the PA SHPO
As of January 1, 2016, the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP) is now the PA SHPO, for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.

The PHMC Commissioners approved the official designation at their December meeting “to recognize the significance and legacy of the [National Historic Preservation] Act and to honor the 50th anniversary of the Act to assure a more vibrant future for preservation in Pennsylvania…”
You’ll see our new name and logo on our emails, blog, newsletters, correspondence, forms, displays, and official paperwork.  The new changes will roll out over the course of the next few months.

PA SHPO Office Reorganization
With our new name comes a new office space!

Beginning on January 14, 2016, the PA SHPO offices in the Commonwealth Keystone Building will be completely redone with a new and improved research room, conference rooms, and a floor plan that helps us work more efficiently and effectively.  We expect the reorganization to take about five weeks.

Please note:

* The Research Room will be closed from Thursday, January 14th through Friday, January 29th.  To accommodate the closure, the Research Room will be open on Monday, January 11th and Monday February 1st for its normal 9:00 to 4:00 hours.

* Staff phone numbers will remain the same.

* Please expect some disruptions with our service during this time.  We will do our best to maintain ‘business as usual’ but there may be times when we are not able to return a call or email immediately.  We hope this reorganization will go smoothly and we appreciate your patience!

We are gearing up for some truly great work in 2016.  We hope you’ll be part of it! 

Some of the artifacts uncovered during the excavation included bone pendants, fish hook and a notched  spoon.

December 30, 2015
by Guest Contributor

What is your most amazing discovery?

by Christine Davis, Christine Davis Consultants, Inc.

After 30 years of excavating archaeological sites in Pennsylvania, I’m often asked about my most amazing discovery.  I would not hesitate for a moment to say it was our large-scale excavation of the Freeport Site in Freeport Township, Greene County, which revealed an extraordinary Native American archaeological site dispersed across 11 acres of land above the Monongahela River.

Continue Reading →

City of Bradford Welcome Sign

December 23, 2015
by Bill Callahan

Spotlight Series: Preservation At Work in Bradford

45 communities in Pennsylvania have a formal working relationship with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) on a variety of preservation-related programs and projects.

Known as Certified Local Governments (CLGs), these communities represent a broad geographic, demographic and economic swath across the Commonwealth. From Philadelphia (Pop. 1.5 million) to Mercersburg, Franklin County (Pop. 1500) and located in over a third of Pennsylvania counties, the CLG program provides exclusive funding and technical assistance for local governments.  As you may remember from this post a few months ago, the CLG program is one of several federal programs administered by the PA SHPO; in this case, the National Park Service provides guidance, rules and funding for the CLG program.

Three CLG communities in the PA SHPO Western Region provide a glimpse into the range of preservation activities CLGs can sponsor. Over the next few months, we’ll illustrate how the City of Bradford, Moon Township and the City of Pittsburgh have used the CLG program to leverage their preservation programs.  We’ll turn our spotlight on Bradford first.

Continue Reading →


December 16, 2015
by Emma Diehl

5 Things To Know: Section 106 and Consulting Parties

Arguably, like most any full-time hard working adult, there aren’t enough hours in the day to absorb all of the informative blogs and interesting articles regarding Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 that traverse the “intra-web.” So no surprise, I recently came across a blog a mere 6 months after its initial posting that immediately grabbed my attention. On March 6, 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Leadership Forum posted Elizabeth Merritt’s “Worst Practices for Section 106 Consultation.” Her blog very candidly captures the 10 worst approaches to Section 106, noting instead that Section 106 should in fact be a “team exercise, with all parties working together to come up with an agreed-upon solution.” Recognizing that historic preservation is a public interest, Section 106 is inherently a consultative process. But who should be included in that process or, in other words, who should be getting the invite to the party (after all, they are called consulting parties)? This blog hopes to provide some guidance on answering that question. Continue Reading →