Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

The uniformed toll collectors at each interchange were seen as the Turnpike's "ambassadors".

September 30, 2015
by Shelby Weaver Splain

Happy Birthday, Pennsylvania Turnpike!

PTC_75-years_logo-272x300The Pennsylvania Turnpike turns 75 tomorrow, and groups throughout the state have already started their tributes to this engineering marvel and cultural icon. On Friday, the State Museum will open a new permanent exhibit about the Turnpike in its Industry and Transportation gallery, and the recent issue of the Pennsylvania Heritage magazine featured a great piece on the Turnpike written by the exhibit’s curator, Curt Miner. Earlier this year, staff from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PHMC gave a presentation about “America’s First Superhighway” at the Statewide Conference on Heritage. We wanted to send out our own birthday greeting and share with our readers some amazing historical facts about our beloved Turnpike.

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September 23, 2015
by Karen Galle

5 Things To Do Now: Historical Markers

 Things To Do Now is an occasional series featuring tips and tricks for some of the SHPO’s most popular programs and projects.

PA National Guard 112th Infantry Regiment1Think there is a person, place, or event in your community that deserves some recognition?  If you believe that one of PHMC’s blue-and-gold historical markers is a great way to tell that story to the world, then keep reading for some tips (in no particular order)on what you can be doing right now to prepare an application for the next round of marker nominations.  The deadline is December 1, 2015. Continue Reading →

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commision Logo

September 21, 2015
by Shelby Weaver Splain

Special Announcement: Job Opportunity at the PA SHPO!

There is an immediate opening for the following position with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC):

Historic Preservation Specialist


This position supports and maintains the Commonwealth’s historic building survey, including maintaining the integrity of the historic property information in the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS) and facilitating new surveys in order to assist the PHMC, other agencies, and the public in evaluating the historic resources within the state and the effects of various programs on those resources. The incumbent digitizes data from the bureau’s legacy paper records and all newly recorded cultural resources into a computerized Geographic Information System (GIS) program. These duties include computerized mapping of cultural resources including historic property and district locations from both paper and outside electronic sources; entering and updating resource information; and facilitating the scanning, processing, and storage of resource images for linkage into CRGIS. Continue Reading →

CLGs in Pennsylvania

September 16, 2015
by Andrea L. MacDonald

CLG Soul Searching

The 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act  established the Certified Local Government (CLG) program to give local governments a formal voice in the national historic preservation conversation.

The Central Market in Lancaster. The City of Lancaster is a Certified Local Government.

The Central Market in Lancaster. The City of Lancaster is a Certified Local Government.

Let’s call out the super-powers of metaphor to explain this relationship.  I often like to use the fabulously versatile bungee cord.  Yes, the thing you use to keep your bike attached to the bike rack on your car or for a dozen other things.  Imagine the CLG program as a bungee cord.  It can expand.  It can reinforce.  In this metaphor, the CLG bungee cord connects the National Park Service to State Historic Preservation Offices to municipalities to citizens.  The CLG bungee cord carries the energy and economic connection between the national preservation program and a local preservation program for participating local governments.  Broad guidelines have been established by the National Park Service that provide the framework for participation in the CLG program; however, states have wide latitude to tailor the program to best assist the characteristics of their local governments.   Continue Reading →

Fort Mifflin National Historic Landmark in Philadelphia (Key #001371).

September 9, 2015
by Jeremy R. Young

Preservation Partnerships: Working Together To Save Historic Resources From Natural Disasters

We all know that partnerships, collaboration, and teamwork are critical in the effort to identify, preserve, and celebrate Pennsylvania’s historic resources.  One such partnership in Philadelphia will help protect the city’s historic places and spaces from the devastating damage caused by natural disasters. Continue Reading →

Courtesy of Preservation Pennsylvania.

September 2, 2015
by Guest Contributor
1 Comment

People Power at the 2015 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards

by Sabra Smith, Preservation Pennsylvania

What is the preservation community’s most important asset? It’s the people! Those passionate, creative, place-loving, story-telling folks who wear invisible super hero capes and do their best work so that a beloved landmark is restored, or a neighborhood story is discovered, or a community of advocates is activated. Continue Reading →

The Mt. Gretna Historical Society, Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County.  National Register nomination, 2014.

August 26, 2015
by Cheryl Nagle

Offbeat Outing: Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes and Gardens

The leafy streets of Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County.  Photo by BHP staff, 2011.

The leafy streets of Mt. Gretna, Lebanon County. Photo by BHP staff, 2011.

Offbeat Outings is a bi-monthly series that highlights the travels of BHP staff as they experience history first-hand throughout Pennsylvania.


Trying to find something to do outside in Pennsylvania during the month of August is often challenging with our hot and humid days. Luckily, the first Saturday in August is always the Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes & Gardens.

“Mount Gretna” (“Mt. Gretna”) is a rather loosely defined residential area in southern Lebanon County and is about seven miles south of the city of Lebanon, twenty miles north of Lancaster and about thirty-five miles from Harrisburg. I figured you all would enjoy “touring” the countryside using a 1914 State Highway Map instead of that high tech GPS/Bing/Google mapping!   Mt. Gretna’s early communities are “cities in the woods” and due to the careful planning in the 1890s and maintaining of the overhead tree canopy, Mt. Gretna is at least 10 degrees cooler than the rest of Lebanon County during the summer. Continue Reading →

Erie Insurance Exchange Building after rehabilitation.

August 19, 2015
by Scott Doyle
1 Comment

Good Things Take Time: The First Pennsylvania Tax Credit Project Comes Online

erie after 5During my tenure with Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Office, I reviewed numerous legislative drafts for the long-awaited Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.  Early drafts included a historic homeowner component.  Later versions proposed grants instead of tax credits.  All dozen or so drafts were bypassed in the legislative process until the approval of the Pennsylvania Historic Tax Credit program in the Fiscal Year 2012-13.

After a successful launch of the program in Fiscal Year 2013-14, I was eagerly anticipating the approval of the first historic tax credit project.  My money was on a project from Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. These two cities received the most state tax credit allocations and have a long track record for project completion.  To my surprise, those two cities will need to take a back to seat to the Flagship City of Erie – our Gem City situated on the sparkling water of Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie – and the striking rehabilitation of the CF Adams Building by the Erie Insurance Exchange. Continue Reading →

Kiefel Bridge, taken by Nathaniel Holth. Courtesy of 2013. Used by permission of Nathaniel Holth.

August 12, 2015
by Guest Contributor

Intern Introspect: 10 Historic Bridges in Pennsylvania to Paddle Under Before the Temperature Plummets

by Elizabeth Shultz

Nestled between the peak heat of July and the crispness of October’s flaming foliage is that special span of outdoor living in Pennsylvania that is the perfect time to hoist your kayaks and canoes onto your shoulders, strap your sturdiest water shoes to your feet, and set out to feast your eyes on some of the architectural and engineering gems that crisscross Pennsylvania’s diverse bodies of water. In the true Commonwealth spirit of discovery, before our rivers turn to frozen slush and our streams start to crunch, let your paddles guide you under some of Pennsylvania’s treasured pieces of transportation history – starting with those listed below! Continue Reading →


August 5, 2015
by Pamela Reilly

Good to Know: The Bungalow – Cozy and Charming, America’s Early 20th Century Dream Home


Bungalow in State College, Centre County. Photo by Bryan Van Sweden, PHMC.

Who doesn’t love a Bungalow?  This charming cottage-like dwelling was America’s favorite small house at the turn of the 20th century and was most popular between 1900 and 1930. Some view Bungalows as the embodiment of “home”  —  intentionally designed as a  cozy and  welcoming house form with a prominent front porch  and chimney.    It was even romanticized in songs of that period by Irving Berlin and others. In his 1925 lyrics Berlin described   “A little bungalow, an hour or so from anywhere. A little cozy nest, the kind that’s best for two. Among the shady trees, with birds and bees and lots of air.”   No wonder the popularity of Bungalows spread quickly across the country.   What exactly is a Bungalow house and where did the design come from? Continue Reading →