The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) is the official historic preservation agency for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PHMC’s Executive Director serves as our State Historic Preservation Officer and our staff includes preservationists, planners, GIS specialists, public historians, archaeologists and an architect.

A bureau within the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC), PA SHPO administers state historic preservation programs authorized through the Pennsylvania History Code (Title 37 of the Pennsylvania Code), the Pennsylvania Historic District Act (Act 167 of 1961), and manages several Federal programs created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 470) (NHPA). Our work is guided by the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board and the Commonwealth’s historic preservation plan, #PreservAtionHappensHere.

PA SHPO’s programs include:

  • Certified Local Government Program
  • Community Preservation Program
  • Education and Outreach
  • Environmental Review
  • Historic Property Inspection Program
  • Historic Tax Credit Programs
  • Historical Marker Program
  • Keystone Historic Preservation Grants
  • National Register of Historic Places
  • Survey Programs

Learn more about PA SHPO and these programs at on our website.

Certified Local Government Program

Local governments can invigorate their historic preservation activities by participating in the Certified Local Government (CLG) program. Enabled by a 1980 amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act, this National Park Service program gives municipalities the opportunity to strengthen local historic preservation activities through exclusive funding incentives and enhanced technical assistance. In Pennsylvania, the CLG program is administered by PA SHPO.

To be certified, local governments agree to enact historic preservation ordinances and/or zoning and participate in the process of nominating and reviewing properties in their municipality for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. CLGs also agree to maintain and update information on historic resources in their communities and to provide training for local historic district review boards and/or historic preservation commissions. One of the benefits to becoming a CLG is financial. Federal law requires that PA SHPO set aside at least 10 percent of its Historic Preservation Fund allocation for distribution to CLGs. In Pennsylvania, designated CLG municipalities can apply for this federal funding through an annual competitive matching grant program.

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Community Preservation Program

Municipalities have many options available to them for identifying, preserving and enhancing historic places in their communities. To help municipalities and organizations foster and manage historic preservation programs at the local level, PA SHPO’s three regional community preservation coordinators offer technical assistance, advice and educational programs, such as:

  • Historic Preservation Planning
  • Ordinances and Overlays
  • Resources for Historic Architectural Review Boards and Historical Commissions
  • Preservation Strategies
  • Historic District Act Certification

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Education and Outreach

Education and outreach are core components of PA SHPO’s mission and programs, empowering Pennsylvanians to engage and promote preservation in their own communities. PA SHPO works with a wide variety of audiences, including the general public, municipal governments, tribes, legislators, and state and federal agencies. PA SHPO’s role is to provide information about historic preservation activities and offer assistance with the federal and state historic preservation programs in Pennsylvania.  PA SHPO works to:

  •  meet audience needs for education and training;
  • increase access to accurate and timely information;
  • improve the use of federal and state programs;
  • advance knowledge of and activities regarding historic preservation in Pennsylvania; and
  • foster stronger relationships with partner agencies and organizations.

In addition to the education and outreach PA SHPO conducts daily, PA SHPO publishes the weekly blog and two monthly and two biannual e-newsletters;
offers live and recorded webinars, workshops and presentations; and exhibits at partner conferences and events.

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Environmental Review

In Pennsylvania, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and the Pennsylvania History Code require federal and state agencies to take preservation into consideration when they propose a project that may affect historic properties, including historic landscapes and archaeological sites. PA SHPO refers to this consultation as Environmental Review.

Every day, PA SHPO Environmental Review staff work closely with local, state and federal agencies and historic preservation professionals to advise and assist them with procedures in the Environmental Review process, such as identifying historic properties, including archaeological sites, in their project area and determining if the proposed project will affect these properties. If historic properties will be affected, PA SHPO staff will often assist agencies and their applicants to seek and consider alternatives that avoid or minimize the potential impacts of a project, and identify mitigation options when adverse impacts are unavoidable.

PA SHPO has been working successfully with state and federal agencies and preservation stakeholders, known as consulting parties, to develop creative, innovative and meaningful mitigation in the public interest. Examples of meaningful mitigation developed by PA SHPO staff in consultation with agencies this year include funding for historic barns and bridges, National Register nominations, and public education, including websites, published histories and exhibits.

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Historic Property Inspection Program

PA SHPO launched the new Historic Property Inspection Program (HPIP) in February 2022 as one of two improvements to PHMC’s covenant-monitoring responsibilities, the first being the management of covenant agreements through PA-SHARE. A preservation covenant, sometimes called an easement, is a legal document that is executed between two parties to ensure that a property will remain in good condition and that all physical changes will be done in such a way to ensure that the building remains listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

PHMC holds more than 365 active covenants on historic properties. Most of the current agreements are associated with construction projects funded through the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program. PHMC’s covenant agreements require property owners to notify and consult with PA SHPO staff about any proposed work on their historic buildings. The staff then evaluates the project to ensure that the character-defining features are retained during any project and that the proposed project is compliant with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

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Historic Tax Credit Programs

Historic Tax Credits are the most widely used historic preservation incentive program in the country. In Pennsylvania, two historic tax credit programs are available to property owners rehabilitating a historic building for an income-producing use. They are important economic development tools for property owners and developers that benefits communities.

Federal historic tax credit: Designed to encourage private investment in the reuse of historic buildings, the federal 20% historic tax credit program allows the owners of income-producing properties to take a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on federal income tax for eligible planning and construction costs related to the rehabilitation of a historic property for its new use.  PA SHPO administers the Historic Tax Credit program in partnership with the National Park Service and the Internal Revenue Service.  Learn more at

Pennsylvania historic tax credit: Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) with assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and PA SHPO, the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Tax Credit program provides tax credits to qualified taxpayers who will be completing the rehabilitation of a qualified historic structure into an income-producing property. In each application round, a maximum of $5 million in tax credits is available for distribution to qualifying projects on a first come, first serve basis, with equitable regional distribution. Learn more at

Historical Marker Program

In Pennsylvania’s many diverse communities, the iconic blue-and-gold, cast-aluminum markers are history lessons, travelers’ guideposts, tourist attractions, and sources of local pride. Since 1946 Pennsylvania Historical Markers have chronicled the people, places, events and innovations that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. They feature subjects such as Native Americans, early settlers, government leaders, athletes, artists, entertainers, struggles for freedom and equality, industries, businesses, and many other noteworthy topics.

PA SHPO works with a variety of communities and people to help identify eligible stories, prepare a nomination, manufacture and install the markers, and plan dedication ceremonies. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a marker and, if approved, PHMC assumes the costs for manufacturing and delivering the marker. Most markers are dedicated in public events featuring officials, community representatives, local historians and others. Each dedication presents opportunities for Pennsylvanians to celebrate and understand their heritage.

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Keystone Historic Preservation Grants

The PA SHPO administers the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program, which was established in 1994 under the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund to support projects that identify, preserve, promote, and protect historic properties of Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and the revitalization of communities. The Keystone grants are one of the few dedicated funding sources available to support these types of historic preservation projects.

Planning Project Grants provide financial assistance of $5,000 to $25,000 as a matching grant to nonprofit organizations and local governments for the planning and development for publicly accessible historic properties. Construction Grants provide financial assistance of $5,000 to $100,000 as a matching grant to nonprofit organizations and local governments for small construction projects for publicly accessible historic properties.

For both grants, applicants must be based in Pennsylvania, have tax exempt status or be an entity of local government, and must be incorporated and serving the public for at least five years prior to application. Historic properties are those listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Awardees are selected through a competitive application process once a year.

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National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. It is a federal program, authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and is administered by PA SHPO in partnership with the National Park Service. Listing in the National Register is one tool Pennsylvanians can use to help them reach their preservation goals for their historic properties. For some, listing brings opportunities for funding that helps with the costs of preserving, rehabilitating or maintaining a historic property. For others, inclusion in the National Register provides opportunities for recognizing the historic places that are important to a community and for educating others about the value of a community’s irreplaceable assets.

In Pennsylvania, PA SHPO assists dozens of communities, municipalities and property owners with the National Register listing process each year. Because listing unlocks opportunities for preservation, the program is often used in conjunction with other state and federal historic preservation programs. National Register nominations are reviewed by Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Board three times a year in February, June and October at public meetings.

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PA-SHARE, Pennsylvania’s State Historic and Archaeological Resource Exchange, is the PA SHPO’s enterprise-wide, integrated online database management and spatially enabled cultural resource GIS system. PA-SHARE is much more than just a map-based inventory of historic and archaeological sites and surveys. PA-SHARE is a sophisticated system hosting all PA SHPO program areas and is a primary tool for the public, agencies, and our partners to make informed decisions, efficiently move through processes, and more easily collect historic and archaeological resource information.

PA-SHARE is an important planning tool, no matter what type of work Pennsylvanians do with cultural resources. PA-SHARE has built in functionality that can help streamline, manage, and improve project planning and delivery.  There are four levels of access to accommodate user needs for interacting with PA SHPO, each with additional functionality and benefits. Guest and Basic users can access PA-SHARE for free. Pro and Business subscription users enjoy access to all of PA SHPO’s digitized files, project tracking and user dashboards, additional map functionality, and Surveyor for mobile field work.

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Survey Programs

PA SHPO manages two survey programs for identifying and recording older and historic places in Pennsylvania: the Pennsylvania Above Ground Survey (PAGS) and the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey (PASS). Information collected through these survey programs is added to Pennsylvania’s statewide inventory of buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts. This inventory is available online through PA- SHARE for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.

PAGS collects information about the commonwealth’s historic and cultural places, such as buildings, farms, bridges, parks, neighborhoods and landscapes. Throughout the commonwealth, Pennsylvanians are dedicating their time to photographing and documenting the historic and cultural places that they care about, and they are sharing their work with PA SHPO. Places identified through PAGS are mapped in PA SHPO’s online GIS database.

PASS is PA SHPO’s statewide inventory of more than 26,000 recorded archaeological sites, representing 16,000 years of Pennsylvania’s history. Archaeological site information has been collected across Pennsylvania since the 1940s. PA SHPO welcomes site information from everyone, including museums, historical societies, students and collectors. Recording finds and their locations is an important step in learning about the past and protecting these important places.

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