Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

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December 19, 2014
by Kira Heinrich

Digital Underground: Seeking Electronic Versions of Archaeological Reports

crgis final logo e1418999042628 Digital Underground: Seeking Electronic Versions of Archaeological ReportsAs many of you will have noticed in your recent correspondence with our office, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), we have made a change in number and media requested for archaeological report copies. We are now requesting just one hard copy for the permanent archive file here at the SHPO office in Harrisburg, as well as three electronic copies on disks. This recent change is an attempt to plan for a future time when archaeological reports will be available on the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS) to qualified users, in their entirety. Continue Reading →


December 17, 2014
by Cory Kegerise

Preservation at 50: Planning for the Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act

I am dismayed to learn from reading this report that almost half of the twelve thousand structures listed in the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service have already been destroyed.  This a serious loss and it underlines the necessity for prompt action if we are not to shirk our duty to the future.

– Lady Bird Johnson in With Heritage So Rich, 1966

medium logo 191x300 Preservation at 50: Planning for the Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation ActIn the waning months of 1964, a small group of preservation advocates, beleaguered by nearly two decades of Federal transportation and urban renewal programs that decimated historic communities across the country, gathered to strategize about a new national framework for historic preservation. They wondered whether the “progress” ushered in by the post war economic boom could be redefined in ways that would respect, and even enhance, historic places? Those efforts would eventually lead, in October 1966, to the adoption of the National Historic Preservation Act, the most comprehensive and fully articulated law protecting historic places in the United States.

The country is preparing to mark the 50th anniversary of the NHPA in 2016, and there are many preservation accomplishments to celebrate, but also much left to be done.  Preservation50, a coalition of national preservation organizations and agencies is organizing the celebration of the NHPA anniversary and they need your input and involvement. Continue Reading →

The home of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, BHP Key No. 001061

December 10, 2014
by Karen Arnold

The Keystone Fund Partners in Preserving James Buchanan’s Wheatland

Wheatland 300x184 The Keystone Fund Partners in Preserving James Buchanan’s Wheatland

Wheatland, the home of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States, BHP Key No. 001061

I realize that when it is cold outside, it might be more comfortable to hibernate on the couch watching television, but this is a great time of year to visit the Commonwealth’s museums and historical sites.  Always in need a last-minute hostess gift for a party, I often pop into the Landis Valley Museum Shop for a unique gift or just take respite in exploring the material cultural of our great Commonwealth.  One of my favorite historic houses to visit this time year is President James Buchanan’s Wheatland in Lancaster.  Constructed in 1828 for William Jenkins, the president of Farmer’s Bank of Lancaster, the Federal-style brick house and surrounding 24 acres were purchased by retiring U.S. Secretary of State, James Buchanan, in 1848.  Wheatland remained Buchanan’s home during his presidency until his death on June 1, 1868.  The Mansion was sold in 1935 to the James Buchanan Foundation for the Preservation of Wheatland to develop a Presidential House Museum.  Continue Reading →

Eliza Kirkbride School, Philadelphia

December 3, 2014
by Shelby Weaver Splain

School Daze

No, this isn’t a review of Spike Lee’s 1988 movie.  I’m referring to my state of mind when I think about all of the work I’ve done with public schools in Philadelphia over the past few months.

As you may remember from this post, I joined BHP in July and my first assignment was to complete the survey component of a larger project to document Philadelphia elementary and secondary public schools of all types, styles, and dates.  I had a good start on the survey work thanks to the headway my predecessor made in 2013 by assembling lists and survey maps, which are organized by zip code.  My school daze started when I realized that there were about 300 public schools that qualified for this reconnaissance-level survey.  And, even more intimidating, that 205 still needed to be surveyed before school started on September 8thContinue Reading →


November 26, 2014
by Andrea L. MacDonald

Updated Forms and Guidance from the SHPO

StaffRegions 300x175 Updated Forms and Guidance from the SHPOBite off more than you can chew, then chew it. Plan more than you can do, then do it.
- Anonymous

It’s that time of the year for excess chewing, and it’s also timely for the Bureau to take a mid-plan stretch (after a turkey-induced slumber) and to regain focus on evaluating the accomplishments of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Historic Preservation Plan, Building Better Communities: The Preservation of Place, 2012-2017.  The Plan includes an ambitious Action Agenda that was developed with the direct intent of being highly responsive to public needs and desires.   While the Plan was created for all Pennsylvanians and depends on assistance and full participation for it to be successful, Goal 5’s objectives and strategies resulted from some internal soul-searching.  Continue Reading →

Elizabeth McShane and Alma Siebern Puglia admire the Ashland Mother's Memorial in October 2014.

November 19, 2014
by Karen Galle

A Family Reunion at the Mother’s Memorial

At the end of October I had the opportunity to take a trip to Ashland, PA for the first time.  It was a beautiful fall day, near the peak of the fall foliage season, and the drive up I-81 from Harrisburg afforded me great views of the nearby mountains.  The purpose of the trip was to visit the Mother’s Memorial that I had featured in a blog around Mother’s Day of 2013. Continue Reading →


November 12, 2014
by Kira Heinrich
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History with a slice of pie: on the road with the Heinrichs

Late in August this summer Keith and I found ourselves in Westmoreland County, on a rare working Saturday, with a couple hours of down time. Between my meeting with a consultant in the morning and Keith’s event to celebrate the National Register listing of the Concord School in the evening, we needed a plan: something better than hanging out at the closest mall or park for a few hours. Continue Reading →


November 5, 2014
by Cory Kegerise

Crossing the line: Meeting our SHPO colleagues from across the Northeast

By Cory Kegerise and Serena Bellew

From time to time, Bureau for Historic Preservation staffers are asked about how a particular process, form, or issue affecting historic resources in Pennsylvania is handled in different states.  Fortunately, in the age of e-communication there are websites and listserves to provide answers to most of these questions.  But no matter what field you’re in, nothing can replace some old-fashioned face-to-face interaction with peers and colleagues from other places to help bring a fresh perspective to your day-to-day work.  And so, in that spirit, representatives from State Historic Preservation Offices from Maryland to New Hampshire gathered in New Castle, Delaware on October 28 & 29 for two days of information exchange and networking with each other, the National Park Service, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Continue Reading →


October 22, 2014
by Noël Strattan

Traces in the Woods

Have you ever been walking through the woods and wondered who walked here before you? Setting aside the 16,000 years of prehistory in Pennsylvania, it is amazing to me how much our use of the land has changed during the last 350 years. Much of Penn’s Woods has gone from woods to farms to industrial tracts and back to woods. But all those activities have left traces on the land – some blatant, some subtle. Being an archaeologist by training, I look for those traces when I walk in the woods. Continue Reading →