Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

The Continuing Impact of the Keystone Historic Preservation Fund

Mark your Calendars – Keystone Grant Applications are due March 3, 2014!  It is amazing that the Keystone Recreation, Park & Conservation Fund celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2013. That’s 20 years of enhancing natural, recreational, educational, and historic resources for residents throughout every region in Pennsylvania.

The PHMC uses its share of the Keystone Fund to provide public grants that identify and preserve historic and archaeological resources.  It is one of the few dedicated funding sources available to support these types of historic preservation projects.  Since created, our Keystone Grant Program supported over 550 community projects preserving the Commonwealth’s diverse array of historic properties including covered bridges, county courthouses, roller coasters and museums.

Eastern State Penitentiary: Roof ReconstructionThe Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grant Program provides funding in the categories of preservation, restoration and rehabilitation to nonprofit organizations and local governments for capital improvements on historic resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  Grant requests for the construction program may be from $5,000 to $50,000 and require 50/50 matching funds.

Eastern State Penitentiary: Mural ConservationOne of the program’s recently completed projects is the restoration of the roof over the Catholic Chaplain’s Office at Eastern State Penitentiary. This penitentiary, designed by John Haviland in 1826, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and operates today as a museum.  This roof project was especially significant because it preserved the exterior envelope of the building – a critical step (not funded by the Keystone Grant Program) in the effort to save 23 murals painted by an inmate during his incarceration.  With the project’s completion, the Catholic Chaplain’s Office is now part of the general tour route and offers a fascinating perspective of inmate life.

Keystone Historic Preservation Project Grants provide funding to support projects in the categories of Cultural Resource Surveys, National Register Nominations, Planning and Development Assistance, and Archaeology.  Grant requests for the project program may be from $5,000 to $25,000 and also require 50/50 matching funds.  This program supports projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and community revitalization.

Mooncrest Historic DistrictAfter successfully nominating Mooncrest, a post war suburb in Allegheny County, to the National Register of Historic Places in September, the Township of Moon looked to a second project to further their community preservation efforts.  The township is in the midst of a Historic Preservation plan identifying significant features and increasing public awareness of the Township’s history. Both projects were funded through Keystone Historic Preservation Project grants selected to increase awareness about an often not recognized historic resource.

The PHMC is proud to announce the continued economic impact of the Keystone program. The Commission is accepting applications for fiscal year 2013-2014 funding.  Many applications are already started for this immensely popular grant program but it isn’t too late for your community or local-nonprofit to submit an application.    Check out eGrant for more information about the application process and begin today!

 If you want more information about the Keystone Grant program or to inquire if your project may qualify, contact me at the PHMC-BHP, Karen Arnold at (717) 783-9927 or  The March 3rd Application Deadline is fast approaching!

1 Comment

  1. Sally Elk

    Because of the Keystone Grant Program, Eastern State Penitentiary has protected much of this National Historic Landmark, including this most recent project, the Catholic Chaplain’s Office! Thank you, Karen, for featuring how historic preservation funding has allowed us to open this space and tell the fascinating story of inmate Lester Smith’s murals.

    To all of you Keystone grant recipients and historic preservationists, please remember to thank your legislators for this program, as we all need to promote the importance of ongoing public support of worthy preservation projects.

    Sally Elk
    President and CEO
    Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

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