Pennsylvania Historic Preservation

Blog of the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office

January’s SHPO Shout Out!

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This month’s Shout Out includes great news about PA’s new National Historic Landmarks, some cool stuff in Cumberland County, and some new research projects!

Pennsylvania’s NHLs

No, I’m not talking about PA’s two teams in the National Hockey League – even though we’re deep in ice hockey season at the moment.  I’m talking about our National Historic Landmarks (NHLs for short).  Up until a few weeks ago, Pennsylvania only had 171 Landmarks to call our own.  The Department of the Interior announced in January that Secretary Jewell designated 24 new NHLs and two just happen to be in Pennsylvania.   You can see the full list here and – wow! – our NHLs are part of a very impressive list!

What is a National Historic Landmark? National Historic Landmarks are nationally-significant historic places (versus those that may only have significance at the local or state level) that are designated as such by the Secretary of the Interior because “they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.”  There are over 2,500 NHLs throughout the country that embody and reflect the important places, ideas, milestones, and personalities that have shaped the country since its founding through the mid-20th century.

First up is the Keim Homestead in Oley, Berks County, which was designated as an exceptionally intact example of early German American domestic vernacular architecture. Constructed ca. 1753, the main house and the ancillary building represent methods of construction, elements of architectural decoration, and patterns of dwelling and domestic outbuilding layout and design that were characteristic of the German American tradition of the mid-eighteenth century.  The Keim Homestead is one of many historic sites owned and operated by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County – the next time you’re ready for a road trip, the Oley Valley is always a great place to see amazing Pennsylvania German architecture.

The Keim Homestead in Pike Township, Berks County in the Oley Valley. Photo dated August 2013 and taken by Hshuvaeva, Used under Creative Commons license.

At the opposite side of the state we have the W. A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in Rices Landing, Greene County and owned and operated by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.  This industrial site is an outstanding example of a small, family-owned, twentieth-century foundry and machine shop. “Job shops” like W. A. Young & Sons, which did custom jobs for a variety of clients, were an important component of the American industrial economy facilitated by the development of machine tools and line-shaft power systems in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. The property includes perhaps the finest collection of machine tools found in a small job shop.  Definitely check it out the next time you’re in SW PA!

Front of the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry & Machine Shop, located along Water Street in 1991. Built circa 1900, the foundry is a contributing property to the Rice’s Landing Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Photograph located at the Library of Congress, Prints and Photograph Division HAER: PA,30-RILA,1-47.

Cumberland County’s Mid Century Modern

In December, the Cumberland County Historical Society hosted its first annual Richard C. Reed lecture on Cumberland County architecture where architectural historian Wendy Pires spoke about Mid-century Modern architecture in Carlisle.  So if you’re a fan of Mid-century Mod or Carlisle, take a break from your hectic schedule and watch a recording of her talk.  You can hear State Historic Preservation Board member Dr. Steve Burg give a lecture about WWI at the Historical Society in just a few weeks.

You might expect to see Carlisle filled with 19th and 20th century buildings like this stone residence. Watch the Cumberland County Historical Society’s video to find out there is a lot more recent architecture to love there!

Project to Watch

The Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University and geographers from Millersville University, with the help of a research grant from the Center for Rural PA, have kicked off a project to study municipal historic preservation ordinances in Pennsylvania.  By creating an inventory of existing ordinances and the methods by which municipalities protect their historic resources, the research team will evaluate the current status of preservation ordinances and analyze the impacts these tools have had on municipal-level historic preservation activities.

Stay tuned – I’m sure we’ll have a blog or two about their research and findings!

Author: Shelby Weaver Splain

Shelby Weaver Splain is the Education and Outreach 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.

One Comment

  1. I hope PennDot does not want to take land from these sites as they are trying to do with Kirks Mill village in Little Britain Township. PennDot is the leader of determining historical value in PA.

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