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 statewide historic preservation plan, #PreservationHappensHere.

Started in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, the Community Initiative Award (CIA) is now an annual program and is one of the ways we implement the current statewide historic preservation plan. Each year our list of candidates has grown from a few staff suggestions to over one hundred different places and projects across the commonwealth.

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 to Enter

It is literally the easiest award application ever! And its free!!

There is no formal application or nomination procedure to be considered for a PA SHPO Community Initiative Award – simply do one of the following:

There is no timeline for sharing your story in one of those ways – the door is always open.

How are candidates selected?

Candidates are identified in a few different ways over the course of the calendar year:

  • monitoring social media coverage and traditional press reporting,
  • reporting on active projects that utilize federal or state programs,
  • tracking use of the #PreservationHappensHere hashtag and,
  • reviewing Preservation Success Stories submitted through PA-SHARE.

Beginning in January, we will start reviewing all of the candidates from the previous year. We’ll create a short list and PHMC and PA SHPO staffers will vote to determine the year’s winners. Winners are typically notified in March or April.

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 in May during National Historic Preservation Month.  

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 we hope to put into action soon.

Previous Awardees

Here are the award winners:


  • Wilkes-Barre Walkitecture Tour: Stepping through History (Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County)
  • Preservation and Discovery by the Friends of Fort Halifax Park (Halifax, Dauphin County)
  • Wilkinsburg Train Station Restoration Project (Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County)

Learn more about the 2021 awardees in this post.

Collage image showing a logo, four black and white photographs of buildings, and a mobile phone screen.
The free Walkitecture app provides walkers along the route with historic photos and local history. Source:


  • Erin Phillips, Old Erie on Foot Instagram and Blog (Erie, Erie County)
  • Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka (Millvale, Allegheny County)
  • Mainstreet Waynesboro, Inc. (Waynesboro, Franklin County)

Learn more about the 2020 awardees in this post.

Angie and Don Smith holding the Community Initiative Award for Mainstreet Waynesboro.


  • 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.

The 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.