How often is it that we, as preservationists and champions of history, get to hear some good news about historic preservation? When I check my Facebook feed every morning, I usually see one post after another calling attention to the plight of our cherished historic places and spaces. Finally, one morning, I said, “Enough! There has to be some good in the world!” And the SHPO Shout-Out was born…
I know you’re all wondering what, exactly, this is. On the first Wednesday of every month, I’ll have a new post for the PA SHPO’s blog recognizing a few of the great, small and large, “feel good” preservation activities going on across the Commonwealth by the public, an organization, municipality, community group, regional government, or state or Federal agency. I know there is so much good work out there that we couldn’t possibly feature it all, so we’re going to start by focusing on only those activities that are related to our SHPO program areas: the National Register, historic tax credits, Keystone grants, community coordinators/preservation planning, CRGIS, historic markers, and environmental project review.
So, here we go!
Preservation Gets a Boost in Potter County
Our first Shout-Out goes to the Potter County Road Show! The Potter County Commissioners, led by Commissioner Susan Kefover, hosted the ‘Road Show’ meetings and tours in Galeton, Austin, Coudersport, and Ulysses for business and community leaders interested in ways to improve their downtowns. Bryan Van Sweden, the PA SHPO community coordinator for the Central Region, and staff from Preservation Pennsylvania and the PA Downtown Center participated in this project, which included tours through each of the four participating boroughs and workshops about community technical assistance, grants, tax credit programs for historic properties, and other opportunities for downtown improvement through historic preservation. The Road Show was organized as one of the first projects with the downtown circuit rider hired by the Commissioners, and revived a successful preservation outreach strategy used previously by the PA Downtown Center and Preservation Pennsylvania. By all accounts, the event was a big success!
New Statewide Preservation Plan Endorsements
Lots of other counties and municipalities have also been embracing historic preservation lately and deserve a Shout-Out! You may remember this post from August 2013 when we talked about why municipalities should endorse Pennsylvania’s statewide historic preservation plan, Building Better Communities: The Preservation of Place in Pennsylvania. I am happy to say that communities across the state are still getting on board! In just the last few months, we received endorsements from the Lehigh County Commissioners, the Borough of West Chester(Chester County), the Borough of Ashland (Schuylkill County), the Borough of Ambridge (Beaver County), and the City of Reading (Berks County). The endorsements signal a commitment to historic preservation at the local level as the resolutions outline ways in which these communities will help implement the statewide plan and preserve the historic places important to them.
Historic Tax Credits at Work in Pittsburgh
Last, but certainly not least, this month is a SHPO Shout-Out to the Energy Innovation Center/Clifford B. Connelly Trade School historic tax credit project in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, which has landed the coveted spot as the first case study in the National Park Service’s newly-released Annual Report on the Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit for FY 2014. It’s a great example of how historic tax credits and creative new uses can give a historic building another lease on life and boost the local economy. The Energy Innovation Center (EIC) is located in the National Register-listed Clifford B. Connelly Trade School (Key #005275), which is a large six-story brick school in urban Pittsburgh that was built in 1933 with a huge space for vocational training that was separate from the traditional academic learning. The Connelly School, with its existing labs, workshop areas, and traditional classrooms, now houses training and research space for companies in the energy industry. Designed to respect and preserve the building’s history and character-defining features and accommodate cutting edge research and development, the EIC returns to the Connelly School’s original mission to educate people for new jobs and industries and to foster innovation and a love of learning.
Do you know of any preservation activities that deserve a SHPO Shout-Out? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. While I can’t promise that it will get covered in the monthly Shout-Out, I can promise that we’ll add it to our growing list of great preservation work happening across Pennsylvania. Remember, eligible Shout-Outs must be related to SHPO program areas and can recognize small baby steps to large milestones, and everything in between, led by the public, an organization, municipality, community group, regional government, or state or Federal agency.
Thank you for all the good work you do every day to preserve, protect, and promote our historic places!