Along with the many insightful training sessions, in-the-field workshops, and engaging panel discussions offered at this year’s Pennsylvania Statewide Conference on Heritage (July 8-10th), we’ll blow out some candles honoring the 50th birthday of the State Museum & Archives complex in Harrisburg and discuss the challenges of restoring and advocating for modern architecture.

The 2015 conference is sponsored by Preservation Pennsylvania along with PHMC, PennDOT, DCNR, and local partners and is widely attended by heritage enthusiasts, students, and professionals in the fields of planning, preservation, transportation, community development, public history, heritage consulting, architecture, archaeology, real estate, and more.  With dozens of sessions, workshops, tours, and social events, plus the hall of exhibitors, the Statewide Conference on Heritage is a don’t-miss opportunity for education, inspiration, experience and networking. The general registration rate is set at $150.  (Some events may have associated fees.)

smuseum_1150All events for the 2015 Statewide Conference on Heritage will be based at the William Penn Memorial Museum and Archives, designed by Lawrie & Green and opened in 1965. The building exemplifies 20th-century Modern architecture with its use of abstract geometric forms rather than traditional ornamentation. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places August 2014.  The museum includes a multi-media planetarium, as well as four floors of exhibits and displays covering Pennsylvania history from prehistoric times through current events. Among the features are a large collection of artifacts and displays related to the American Civil War, as well as an extensive collection of industrial and technological innovations.

Phase One_PennDOT_Amanda RasmussenThe conference launches Wednesday, July 8th offering several options including an all-day guided tour of the Michaux State Forest that will explore survey techniques and development of a management plan for places critical to the story of Native Americans, natural resource conservation and land management, the Civil War, early industries, and environmentalism. Anyone curious about transportation planning and Section 106 will gain insights from a hands-on scoping field trip to learn how PennDOT Cultural Resource Professionals identify potential above and below ground heritage resources and determine the proposed project’s potential effects to those resources.

Thursday highlights include celebration of another birthday as the Pennsylvania Turnpike turns 75 this year and we’ll celebrate this first-of-its-kind highway and examine its influence on the American interstate system. Also available are sessions offering masterful tips for explaining the value of preservation to non-preservationists (avoiding our favored, baggage-laden buzzwords), and a discussion of effective (and ineffective) local preservation programs (including non-monetary incentives) with best practices for integrating preservation into local municipal programs.

Thursday evening will involve a little time traveling, as guests are invited for Mad Men Museum tours, a planetarium experience, and a reception featuring Mad About Modern hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Mid-century dress encouraged!

Friday, July 9th wraps up with an overview of archaeology at Colonial military sites, a dialogue about different preservation personality types and now they contribute to a project, and how to “see” and evaluate a landscape whether planned or organic, designed or natural, in urban, suburban, or rural settings. Friday culminates in Preservation Pennsylvania’s Annual Meeting and Luncheon (all are welcome, RSVP link will be provided on the conference website).

The conference is packed with concurrent educational workshops and sessions, including:

  • Cultural Resource Essentials (CRE): Applications & Best Practices, Part 1
  • Cultural Resource Essentials (CRE): Applications & Best Practices, Part 2
  • Pennsylvania Turnpike at 75
  • When You’re Not Preaching To The Choir: How To Speak Preservation
  • “Life is Short; Break the Rules” said Mark Twain:  Papers and Stories in Honor of Joe Verbka
  • Don’t Give Away the Farm: Preserving Historic Farm Houses, Outbuildings and Land
  • Show Me the Money: The Economic Impact of PA’s Heritage Areas
  • “Connecting the Dots: Integrating Historic Preservation into Municipal Planning Programs”
  • A Drop in the Bucket or a Deluge? Tips for Successful Crowdsourcing
  • Meaningful Mitigation: Not just another recordation….
  • Defensible Decision-Making
  • “Wanna Buy a Bridge?” Marketing, Moving and Repurposing Historic Bridges in Pennsylvania
  • When Disaster Strikes: Historic Properties and Hazard Mitigation
  • You Want to Save That?!  Talking to the Public About Modern Architecture
  • What Kind of Preservationist Are YOU?: Tools for the Next Generation
  • The Archaeology of Colonial Military Sites in Pennsylvania
  • Historic Landscapes: A Primer on What Makes a Historic Landscape

The conference also provides an opportunity to learn in the field, with mobile workshops such as:

  • Michaux State Forest: The Cradle of Conservation
  • Transportation Project Scoping
  • A Walk in the Park: The Exterior, Grounds & Landscape Architecture of the Historic Pennsylvania State Capitol
  • City on the Hill: The Harrisburg State Hospital

Available now is information about discounted accommodations as well as sponsorship, advertising, and exhibitor information. All conference attendees are offered a discounted government room rate of $108 a night for the duration of the conference at either the Hilton or Crowne Plaza hotels in downtown Harrisburg.  Your conference rate entitles you to discounted daily in-and-out valet parking. Visit the website for booking information and portal. You are encouraged to book as soon as possible as there are a limited number of rooms available and the guest room rate expires on June 7th.

Questions?  Contact Sabra Smith ( or 267-702-5567) or Joe Baker ( or 717-705-1482)

Sabra Smith is Special Project Manager at Preservation Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth’s only statewide, private non-profit, membership organization dedicated to the protection of historically and architecturally significant properties and the promotion of places with character. She holds a Masters of Science degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.