Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

PA SHPO’s Community Initiative Award


The Community Initiative Award from the State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) recognizes organizations, municipalities, agencies, individuals, and others whose work embodies the theme of Pennsylvania’s recently released statewide historic preservation plan, #PreservationHappensHere.

What is #PreservAtionHappensHere?

#PreservationHappensHere is the idea that great preservation activities are happening every day across Pennsylvania. These activities may or, may not be thought of as historic preservation, nevertheless, need to be discovered, shared, and celebrated!

Man painting porch
#PreservationHappensHere in Pennsylvania every day!

How are candidates selected?

Candidates are identified in a few different ways:

  • By PA SHPO staff and colleagues through social media outlets, traditional press reporting, and projects;
  • Through tracking of the #PreservAtionHappensHere hashtag on social media sites; and
  • With stories emailed to me at or submitted through the #PreservAtionHappensHere story link.
Picture of a birthday cake and the words Happy Birthday
Thanks Natural Lands for using the hashtag!

Each year, usually in the fall, PA SHPO assembles a list of all potential candidates.  This list is narrowed down to ten candidates; PA SHPO staff then vote for the three (or four in the case of a tie) winners.

How to Enter

It is the easiest award application ever!

Simply use the #PreservationHappensHere hashtag when posting on social media, email me, or tell us about your #PreservationHappensHere story here.

There is no formal application or deadline for the Community Initiative Awards.  Entries are reviewed each year, typically in the fall, after PHMC’s #PreservAtionHappensHere/Historic Preservation Month social media campaign in May and June and the summer construction season have ended.

What is the award?

The Community Initiative Award is a time capsule (yes, a real time capsule!) for you to commemorate your project and a framed certificate.  Your preservation story will also be featured in a post on this blog, in the PA SHPO newsletters, and through PHMC’s social media outlets.  

PA SHPO Community Initiative Awards are time capsules!

Please note that there are no strings attached to this award!  Acceptance of the Community Initiative Award does not require that the property is opened to the public for visitation, does not require the owner to comply with any state or federal regulation, and does not automatically grant the property any historic status. 

We are only interested in recognizing your efforts to save and celebrate the places that are important to you and your community. 

How will we receive this award?

Preservation is happening were you are, so it is only fitting that we bring the award to you!  We also believe that the community that helped achieve the preservation outcome being recognized can join in the celebration, too.

Taking the awards on the road is one of the PA SHPO’s new initiatives that is getting a trial run in spring 2020.  

Previous Awardees

To date, PA SHPO has given ten Community Initiative Awards. They are:


  • Mahoning Drive-In Theatre (Mahoning, Carbon County)
  • Fighter’s Heaven (Deer Lake, Schuylkill County)
  • Lazaretto (Tinicum, Delaware County)
  • Roxian Theater (McKees Rocks, Allegheny County)

Learn more about the 2019 awardees in this post.

The Mahoning Drive-In marquee in Carbon County.


  • Walk In Art Center (Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill County)
  • Jefferson County History Center (Brookfille, Jefferson County)
  • Redbank Valley Trails Association (Clarion County)

Learn more about the 2018 awardees in this post.

People standing on large rock
Documenting Scripture Rocks.


  • Bradford Revitalization Team (Bradford, McKean County)
  • East Liberty Development Inc. (Pittsburgh, Allegheny County)
  • Hidden City Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County)

Learn more about the 2016 awardees in this post.

PA SHPO 2016 Community Initiative Award recipients (from left to right: Brad Maule, Conor Corcoran, Peter Woodall, Kendall Pelling, Anita Dolan, Sherri Geary, and Andrea MacDonald)


If you are looking for some examples of #PreservationHappensHere posts, you can find some examples online by typing #PreservationHappensHere into the search box of your favorite social media site and take a few minutes to scroll through to see who is posting and what they are posting.

And, you can always reach out to your favorite PA SHPO staffer with questions or get in touch with me at or (717) 574-8232.

Author: Shelby Weaver Splain

Shelby Weaver Splain is the Education and Special Initiatives Coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office. Shelby is a native of Bucks County and holds a Masters degree in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Historic Preservation from Goucher College.

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