Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

Erie Armory, Erie, Erie County

June 24, 2015
by Scott Doyle

Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program: Year 2 Recap

Since the opening date of the application period on December 1, 2014, I have received many calls and inquiries about the status of Year 2 of Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. By the closure of the application period on February 1, 2015, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) received 30 applications for the second round

Over a long review period which lasted until mid-April, PHMC reviewed the applications to ensure applicants owned qualified historic buildings and that proposed rehabilitation plans met the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  As the qualified applications far exceed the limited $3 million in available credits, DCED used a fair and balanced selection process based on a first -come, first serve basis with regional distribution to select the first round of projects.

To understand the potential economic impact of these 30 proposed projects, here is a general overview of the applicants:

  • The applicants requested a total of $11,945,867 in tax credits for projects with the 30 projects representing an estimated $407,933,776 of construction expenditures, which will generate local and state taxes through payroll, material purchases, real estate taxes and other revenue streams that would offset the $3 million in state tax credits.
  • There was broad regional distribution as all five regions submitted enough applications to utilize a full $500,000 allocation (12 in SE PA, 2 in NE PA, 5 in Central PA, 9 in SW PA and 1 in NW PA)
  • Ultimately, 15 projects in 8 counties received tax credits with building types including an armory, schools, a Masonic hall, industrial buildings that manufactured US Navy ships and stoves, residential homes and large office buildings.
  • The proposed uses for the buildings range from an artist studios and entertainment center (Stokes Millworks in Harrisburg), design studios for an international women’s retail store (Building 18, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard), an early learning center and student housing (James Madison School in Scranton) and a hotel (Oliver Building in Pittsburgh).  A few projects such as the Briggs House in Harrisburg and 408 W. North Avenue in Pittsburgh focused on rehabbing historic houses for rental housing.


Here is a list of the historic buildings that received the Fiscal Year 2014-15 Historic Preservation Tax Credits allocation of $3 million by region:

Southeast Region
Historic Building Municipality County Tax Credit
Pennsylvania Building, 1501 Chestnut Street Philadelphia Philadelphia $250,000
A.F Bernot Brothers Building, 1642 Fairmount Philadelphia Philadelphia $250,000
Robert and Manders Stove Company Hatboro Montgomery $150,000
Building 18, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard Philadelphia Philadelphia $100,000
Northeast Region
Historic Building Municipality County Tax Credit
James Madison School, 528 Quincy Avenue Scranton Lackawanna $250,000
Governor Wolf School, 45 N. 2nd Street Easton Northampton $250,000
Central Region
Historic Building Municipality County Tax Credit
Bi-Comp Building, 210 York Street York York $300,000
Stokes Millworks, 340 Verbeke Street Harrisburg Dauphin $117,250
Briggs House, 17 N. Front Street Harrisburg Dauphin $82,750
Southwest Region
Historic Building Municipality County Tax Credit
Heinz Service & Auditorium Building Pittsburgh Allegheny $210,235
Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield Street Pittsburgh Allegheny $210,235
Masonic Hall, 16-20 W. North Avenue Pittsburgh Allegheny $150,000
5800 Bryant Street Pittsburgh Allegheny $100,00
408 W. North Avenue Pittsburgh Allegheny $79,350
Northwest Region
Historic Building Municipality County Tax Credit
Erie Armory, 350 E. 6th Street Erie Erie $369,015
On PA map

June 17, 2015
by Pamela Reilly

Meet the 2015 Summer Interns

Some of the 2015 PA SHPO interns check out the Mid-Century design elements in the State Museum.

Some of the 2015 PA SHPO interns check out the Mid-Century design elements in the State Museum.

The PA SHPO provides opportunities for interested college students to work as interns in our office throughout the year, but summer always brings a crop of fresh faces.  Our summer interns are participants in either the PHMC Keystone Internship Program or the PENNDOT sponsored summer internship program in cultural resource management. Continue Reading →

Line Mountain Farm 2

June 10, 2015
by Guest Contributor
1 Comment

2015: The Year of the Pennsylvania Barn

by Curt Musselman


Official Year of the Pennsylvania Barn logo designed by Bob McIlhenny, 2014, using barn woodcut by Annie Rubel, 2013

Ten years ago,  Historic Gettysburg Adams County (HGAC) received a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) to help establish a barn preservation program within Adams County. One of our first steps was to begin a survey of the historic barns in the county so that we would know more about the resources we were trying to save. Teams of HGAC volunteers photographed, measured and made observations about the style and construction techniques used on each barn. One of the first things that we learned was that 80 percent of the barns in Adams County are of an architectural type known as the Pennsylvania Barn. This type of barn has two distinctive characteristics; entrance to the second floor by means of a bridge or a built-up ramp, and an overhang or cantilevered forebay on the front of the barn. Within Pennsylvania, these bank barns evolved in the 18th and 19th centuries to their ultimate form, which was influenced by traditional designs brought to America by immigrants coming from Switzerland through Germany. Continue Reading →


June 3, 2015
by Karen Galle

National History Day inspires a new generation

National History Day in Pennsylvania judges hard at work at the 2015 competition.

National History Day in Pennsylvania judges hard at work at the 2015 competition.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to serve as judge at the National History Day in Pennsylvania competition at Millersville University.  The National History Day Program started in 1974, and is an excellent educational opportunity for students in grades 6-12 to learn about the research, analysis, and presentation of history.  Students compete at regional, state, and national levels.  The National History Day in Pennsylvania program is coordinated by Jeff Hawks, the Education Director for the Army Heritage Center Foundation in Carlisle.   There are two divisions – junior and senior – and the categories include:  individual paper, individual and group documentary, individual and group exhibit, individual and group performance, and website (individual and group judged together).  Utilization of primary sources is emphasized in all categories.  Continue Reading →


May 27, 2015
by Noël Strattan

Happy Birthday to ReGIS

REGISBirthdayReGIS is 10!

In Spring 2005 we launched the public version of the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS) website. The database search was named AskReGIS and this little guy was born (thank you Kathy Alsvary!). Since then hundreds of people have consulted him every day to find out what he knows about historic places in Pennsylvania. He has had a few face lifts over the years, and will continue to have work done, as he struggles to keep up with the times, but he remains on duty, helping us share the information we collect about our past. He is a little shy these days. Have you seen him peeking through his window? Continue Reading →

Ceramic figurine uncovered along I-95 in Fishtown.  Courtesy of PennDOT.

May 20, 2015
by Guest Contributor

Digging Deep: Pennsylvania and the Making Archaeology Public Initiative

by Joe Baker, PennDOT Cultural Resources Program

Dr. Frank Vento along the banks of the Susquehanna River.  Photo by Joe Baker.

Dr. Frank Vento along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Photo by Joe Baker.

On a lovely morning in early autumn, I arrive at an old farm along the Susquehanna River to find Dr Frank Vento in his natural element. That is to say, he is squatting down at the bottom of backhoe trench some eight feet deep, carefully examining the many layers of flood-deposited sediment left behind by the great river. Frank is a geomorphologist: a geologist and archaeologist whose specialty is the formation of floodplains, terraces, and other kinds of landforms created by the interaction of climate, gravity, water, wind, and sometimes, humans. Frank is down there looking for something, and as I walk up to the edge of the trench, he finds it.

“Hah! I knew it!” Continue Reading →

Photo 2

May 13, 2015
by Emma Diehl

Offbeat Outing: Shades of Grey – On the Road in Pike County

The mansion at Grey Towers National Historic Site.

The mansion at Grey Towers National Historic Site.

Although I’m Pennsylvania born and raised, I’m the first to (sheepishly) admit that there are many counties within the Commonwealth where I have never stepped foot. So when the invitation arose under the guise of project and covenant review to visit Pike County in the far northeast reaches, I eagerly accepted and grabbed an able co-pilot, Karen Arnold, for what turned out to be a gorgeous day in April. (Disclaimer:  the musings of one mere BHP staffer does not do these places justice –if you’ve never been, add them to your bucket list – they do not disappoint [unlike my writing skills]). Continue Reading →


May 6, 2015
by Guest Contributor

Join us in July for a party at the PA Statewide Conference on Heritage

Along with the many insightful training sessions, in-the-field workshops, and engaging panel discussions offered at this year’s Pennsylvania Statewide Conference on Heritage (July 8-10th), we’ll blow out some candles honoring the 50th birthday of the State Museum & Archives complex in Harrisburg and discuss the challenges of restoring and advocating for modern architecture.

The 2015 conference is sponsored by Preservation Pennsylvania along with PHMC, PennDOT, DCNR, and local partners and is widely attended by heritage enthusiasts, students, and professionals in the fields of planning, preservation, transportation, community development, public history, heritage consulting, architecture, archaeology, real estate, and more.  With dozens of sessions, workshops, tours, and social events, plus the hall of exhibitors, the Statewide Conference on Heritage is a don’t-miss opportunity for education, inspiration, experience and networking. The general registration rate is set at $150.  (Some events may have associated fees.) Continue Reading →


April 29, 2015
by Jeremy R. Young

‘Disaster Planning for Historic Properties’ Exhibit Debuts at the PA State Association of Township Supervisors Conference

Staff from the PA State Historic Preservation Office were on location at the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ (PSATS) 93rd Annual Educational Conference and Trade Show in Hershey, Dauphin County, from April 19-21 to promote the Commonwealth’s new Disaster Planning for Historic Properties Initiative and to convey the importance of considering the impacts of a variety of natural disaster types upon historic resources. Continue Reading →


April 22, 2015
by Shelby Weaver Splain

The National Park Service @ 100: #FindYourPark

2016 is shaping up to be a great year for celebrating historic preservation.  The National Historic Preservation Act turns 50, and the National Park Service turns 100!  Throughout the next year, the National Park Service and its partners will announce a number of initiatives for this centennial celebration.  A few days ago, President Obama declared this week (April 18-26, 2015) as National Park Week, which the National Park Service (NPS) and its partner, the National Park Foundation, call “America’s largest celebration of national heritage.”  All week long people can explore the country’s National Parks and connect with others who love and support these treasures and ensure their longevity over the next 100 years.

But, you ask, what do the National Park Service’s centennial celebrations have to do with Pennsylvania’s State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO)? Hint: It’s not only because Pennsylvania boasts 5 National Parks (in addition to several National Historic Sites, Trails, Monuments, Heritage Areas, Recreational Areas… and the list goes on!) or because NPS funds a large number of the federal programs administered by our office…. Continue Reading →