Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

5 Things about Preservation in 2017

It’s that time of year again! The end of December brings about all sorts of “Year in Review” lists and we didn’t want to disappoint you and not provide our annual “preservation in 2017” post. 

So much has happened over the last 12 months – good and bad – that it was hard to find the right topics for my top 5!  Once you read through my list, please leave a comment and tell me what is on your Preservation Top 5 list for 2017.

Federal Historic Tax Credit Saved!

This is a biggie, and is a given for my top 5 list.

If you’ve been following the news this year, you know that a new tax bill was in the works in D.C. for much of the last several months.  If you’ve been following preservation news, you know that the federal historic tax credit (HTC) was threatened with elimination.

The reconciled tax bill retains the 20% Historic Tax Credit is included with a provision that it will be claimed over five years but the 10% credit for non-historic buildings was cut.

While advocates may be disappointed they could not fully restore the 20% HTC to current law and prevent the elimination of the 10% pre-1936 rehabilitation credit, there is plenty to celebrate!

This photograph shows two late 19th century buildings along a street in Bradford, PA.

For communities across Pennsylvania, like Bradford, the federal historic tax credit is an essential economic development and preservation tool. Source: Erin Hammerstedt/Preservation Pennsylvania, 2014.

At some point in the New Year there will also be an opportunity to make positive adjustments to the HTC in a “Technical Corrections” bills that will clean up ambiguities unanticipated consequences of changes in the tax code. Next year, historic tax credit advocates will focus on further improving the HTC by attempting to eliminate the basis reduction, strive for more favorable transition rules, and enact main street revitalization provisions of the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 1158/S.425).

New Faces at the PA SHPO

This year the PA SHPO welcomed a lot of new faces to the office.  Why did this make the list? Well, because, its people who make PHMC what it is.  This group will help Pennsylvanians reach their preservation goals in 2018.

  • Elizabeth Rairigh joined PHMC as the new Division Chief for the Preservation Services Division, which oversees the National Register, Community Coordinator, and Hurricane Sandy programs.
  • Hannah Harvey, as previous intern with the PA SHPO, is the PA SHPO’s new archaeological Historic Preservation Specialist in the CRGIS section. Hannah will be developing a program of outreach to the archaeological and academic communities to encourage and assist recording of new sites.
  • Saurabh Shah joined PHMC in late November as the Project Manager leading the development of the PA SHPO’s new data management system.
  • John Gardosik is the new Project Manager for our Hurricane Sandy grant from the National Park Service.  He will be focused on our Phase II projects, which include integrating the data gained in Phase I into the hazard mitigation plans for Monroe, Cameron, and Bedford counties and the City of Philadelphia, as well as conducting additional survey of historic resources in flood probe areas.
  • Shawn Massey is the most recent hire as the staff Architect/Designer. Shawn’s primary duties are to manage historic tax credit review and provide architectural support to the rest of the office.
This photograph shows the PA SHPO staff in a group photo.

PA SHPO staff, 2017. John and Shawn had not joined us yet when this photo was taken.

If you haven’t had a chance to welcome these new PA SHPO-ers, I hope you will in the new year.

Archaeology and You

We heard lots and lots of things about archaeology and historic buildings and communities in Pennsylvania through the statewide plan Open Houses, focus groups, Planning Partner events, and in the course of our everyday work.  What we learned is that archaeology is often overlooked in the preservation conversations that are happening across the commonwealth.

Professionals have given voice to the concerns that archaeological resources are often overlooked in local history and planning and the public has shared that they would probably be more interested in the history that lies below the ground if they just knew they were there.  Even in CRGIS, there are only approximately 25,305 archaeological sites recorded while there are over 136,500 historic (above-ground) resources documented.

Ethnicity is the theme for Pennsylvania Archaeology Month 2017.

Enter the new statewide PA SHPO Archaeological Survey and Outreach Program.

This program will bring greater awareness about the field of archaeology, the importance of archaeology, and Pennsylvania’s rich archaeological heritage through university outreach, documenting under-surveyed areas, and bringing new partners into the fold.  We’ve also expanded our blog topics to include more archaeological topics of interest.

Preservation Champions are Everywhere

There are many reasons one could cite for this, but the fact remains that Pennsylvania is incredibly fortunate to have the preservation champions it does. And this was a great year for these champions.

This photograph shows a group of people holding signs in front of an old house.

Preservation champions at the Ida Tarbell House in Crawford County.

We have highlighted many in this blog and our newsletters, and my Google Alert for “historic preservation” and “Pennsylvania” is so full of great preservation stories (and, admittedly a few not-so-great-ones) that I have trouble keeping up some weeks.

Some of those that we highlighted in our blog include:

Just because your organization may not be on this quick list, doesn’t mean you aren’t a preservation champion.  We want – and need! – to celebrate more preservation successes in the coming year.  Not only do our collective successes keep morale up, but they also show Pennsylvania’s elected leaders that preservation is important and is worth the investment.

We can’t celebrate these things on our own, or even begin to collect all of Pennsylvania’s preservation achievements.  Give us a hand and tell us how your group is a preservation champion!

Saying Thank You

We don’t say it enough.

This has been a tough year.  Pennsylvania lost some amazing and important archaeological sites and historic places.  Preservation advocates, like you, worked hard to retain the historic tax credit in the new federal tax code.

But… We also learned about new places and stories to enrich our understanding of Pennsylvania’s unique history.  Pennsylvania’s preservation community gained many new partners and the opportunities for adding more in 2018 are endless.

You, our readers, are one of the most important parts of historic preservation in Pennsylvania.  Here at the PA SHPO, we couldn’t do our job without the support, enthusiasm, and fighting spirit you bring to the table.

Thank you for all that you have done in 2017!  I can’t wait to see what amazing things we’ll accomplish together in 2018.


1 Comment

  1. Scott Doyle


    Thanks for the recap on a successful year.


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