If you haven’t participated in a Pennsylvania National Register nomination you may not have experienced a Historic Preservation Board meeting. But that shouldn’t stop you! The meetings are open to the public and we welcome all preservation aficionados to attend a future meeting. The 2014 schedule is posted on our website. The nominations to be reviewed at an upcoming meeting will also be posted to the website about one month prior to the scheduled meeting.
The purpose of the Historic Preservation Board is to provide expert judgments about the historical, architectural, and archeological significance of resources in Pennsylvania as authorized by Section 101 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and Sections 504 and 505 of the Pennsylvania History Code.
A typical Board meeting consists of two parts: a business meeting and review of National Register nominations. If you plan to attend an upcoming Historic Preservation Board meeting, I’d recommend arriving in time for the business meeting. The business meeting is when the PHMC’s Executive Director speaks about current Commission initiatives, funding, and answers any questions posed by the Board. Similarly, the Director of the Historic Preservation Office (Bureau for Historic Preservation) reports on the bureau’s activities. The business meeting is also when Bureau staff provides training to the Board. Topics range from the Bureau’s programs such as the Section 106 process and the Historical Marker Program to a refresher on National Register guidance. If time permits, the Board members will highlight local preservation issues or success stories.
Every so often I receive an inquiry asking… Who are the Historic Preservation Board members? The simple answer is… no more than fifteen, but no less than nine Pennsylvania residents. The members rotate on and off the board and serve up to three, two-year terms. They are designated by the State Historic Preservation Officer/PHMC Executive Director with the approval of the Governor. Currently, the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board has 15 members.
The bylaws of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board state “all Board members must be professionals in preservation-related fields” and “at least two thirds (2/3) of the Board’s members shall be made up of professionals with demonstrated competencies in each of the [following] disciplines: architecture, archaeology, architectural history, history and historic preservation.”
We are fortunate to have tremendous talent and expertise on the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board. All have lengthy resumes and most are active in local preservation efforts. But I wanted to know what’s behind their resumes, so I recently asked the Board members to reveal something they’d like to share with the greater preservation community. I was elated to learn that our Board members are not only preservation-savvy but are also fascinating individuals. The PA Historic Preservation Board has a lively personality. And collectively they have a portfolio worth preserving. Below is a just a snapshot from the Board’s portfolio…
The Board chair, Richard Leonori is a Scranton native, architect, and cocktail/jazz pianist. He keeps fit through kick-boxing, yoga and leading walking tours of downtown Scranton. Richard also serves as the chair of the Scranton Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB).
Margaret Newman got the preservation bug in 1976 when her parents purchased a home that was originally a barn. The living room, kitchen, and dining rooms were historically the horse stables and Margaret’s bedroom was the hay loft. She grew up in Minnesota but she finds the “beauty and history of Pennsylvania to be unmatched.” Margaret teaches preservation courses at Drew University, serves on her local HARB, and is on the board of the Solebury Township Historical Society.
Steve Burg spent the fall of 2013 in Sweden after receiving the Fulbright Scholars grant. There he examined Swedish historic preservation policy and its connection to issues of sustainability. Back in PA, his preservation interests include documenting, preserving, and interpreting historic cemeteries, particularly those associated with African American and Jewish communities in Central Pennsylvania. Steve is a professor of history and chair of the History and Philosophy Department at Shippensburg University.
Suzanna Barucco’s passion for historic buildings is in her DNA. Her paternal grandfather was a mason and her father was an engineer. Together they instilled a curiosity in Suzanna for how things work and how they get repaired and repurposed. Hence, Suzanna has a particular interest in building materials and restoration. Suzanna is president of sbk + partners, LLC, a preservation consulting firm in Ardmore, PA, and has practiced in the Delaware Valley for most of her career. A great day for Suzanna would be one spent exploring one of Pennsylvania’s small towns, antiquing or gardening.
Lloyd Chapman decided he wanted to become an archaeologist before he started grade school. After an encounter with Dolly Parton in high school and working for the University of Tennessee when he was 16, Lloyd settled into a career with the National Park Service where he stayed put for 29+ years. Lloyd retired from the NPS in 2010 but is active as the Vice President, Board of Directors, of the Ephrata Public Library. He enjoys landscape and nature photography, cooking, backpacking and camping.
Jeff Slack grew up in New Castle, PA where he found himself fortunate to have a number of teachers (including his parents) encourage an early interest in history, architecture and education. Jeff restores stained glass windows; beginning in 1995 he’s lived in the Washington, DC area then in Savannah, Georgia before returning home to PA where his brings his talents to Pittsburgh. Jeff currently teaches a six-credit historic preservation fieldwork course at the University of Pittsburgh. Each spring semester he guides a dozen students through the process of either creating a historic structure report or writing the first draft of a National Register nomination (last year the students studied Mies van der Rohe’s Mellon Hall of Science at Duquesne University and this year it’s the University of Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Observatory). Jeff feels his membership on the Historic Preservation Board helps to sharpen his preservation skills and convictions.
And that’s only 6 of the 15 volunteer members! The next opportunity to see the Board in action is June 10th. The Historic Preservation Board meeting will be held in The State Museum’s Memorial Hall beginning at 9:45 am. If you’d like to join us, please contact me ahead of time so we can ensure there is enough seating for everyone. During the June meeting, the Board will be reviewing the nomination for the William Penn Memorial Museum & Archives Building. It is the PHMC’s goal to have the property listed in 2015 in time to celebrate the building’s 5oth Anniversary!
If you have a general interest in the responsibilities of state historic preservation boards, the National Park Service published a manual to orient board members to their duties. The document would be helpful to anyone new to the preservation field as it provides a good overview of Federal historic preservation programs.
We’re always looking for extraordinary Pennsylvanians for the Historic Preservation Board with the necessary skills and interest in historic preservation. If you’d like to be considered for a future vacancy, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!