We’re back to our regular SHPO Shout-Out post this month, and I get to tell you about some great local preservation activities, two national award winners, and a cool new park in Jefferson County. Two quick things before I launch into my list of happy news: have you taken our online survey for the next statewide historic preservation plan yet? Or have you registered for the upcoming Statewide Conference on Heritage? There is still time to do both!shout out 4

Buy Local, Preserve Local

I see the “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” bumper stickers and magnets all over the place encouraging people to support their local merchants and farmers by spending their hard-earned dollars close to home. I think we need to add “Preserve Local” to that phrase. Sure, there are regional, statewide, and national preservation programs and efforts, but to be most successful, preservation also needs to happen at home, led by communities that want to recognize and protect the older and historic places and spaces that make their place special. Within the last few weeks, PA SHPO staff have participated in several great local preservation workshops in communities that are committed to preserving their historical and architectural treasures. I’m sure there are many more out there, so please tell me about them!

  • At the Bellefonte Old House Fair, Central Region Community Coordinator Bryan Van Sweden led a walking tour and a session on historic building materials. This two-day event was funded in part by a Certified Local Government (CLG) Scholarship Grant and organized and managed by the Centre County Historical Society and the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association. Bryan tells me that the Fair was held at the historic Match Factory, a successful example of an adaptive re-use project owned and managed by the American Philatelic Society.
  • Bill Callahan, Western Region Community Coordinator, and Scott Doyle, PA SHPO’s historic tax credit reviewer, made the trip to Bradford, Mc Kean County (a great little place you may remember from this post and one of PA’s 45 CLGs) to participate in a historic preservation workshop hosted by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford last week. This all-day workshop focused on the financing tools for historic building rehabs and a tour of a recently-completed rehab project.

    Downtown Bradford. Source: Erin Hammerstedt/Preservation Pennsylvania, 2014.

    Downtown Bradford. Source: Erin Hammerstedt/Preservation Pennsylvania, 2014.

  • Scott also joined folks in Huntingdon last month for their Downtown Opportunity Showcase, which was focused on economic development opportunities in Huntingdon, the historic tax credit program, and providing entrepreneurial guidance to small businesses.
  • The Chester County Historic Preservation Network also held a very well-attended 2016 Spring Public Relations and Preservation50 workshop in March. This annual workshop offered some things we don’t often see at preservation conferences like effective communication strategies, dos and don’ts for dealing with the press and social media, and pros and cons of websites and how to manage them effectively.

Congrats to DCNR for their 2016 SCORP Excellence Award!

I was happy to learn a few weeks ago that DCNR won the SCORP Excellence Award from the National Park Service and the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals for the recent updates to their comprehensive plan. PA SHPO staff members Bryan Van Sweden and Andrea MacDonald served on the SCORP Technical Advisory Committee and I was happy to join them on the SCORP team to help with implementing the plan.

What is SCORP? Well, that is the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. In Pennsylvania, DCNR’s Bureau for Recreation & Conservation takes the lead on researching, developing, updating, and implementing the plan with its dozens of planning and implementing partners. If you haven’t already, take a look at the plan called Natural Connections: Pennsylvania’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, 2014-2019 on the DCNR website to learn about how the Plan can help your community. PHMC will work with DCNR and other public and private partners on topics like heritage tourism and planning/management of historic buildings and sites in parks.

DCNR's Award-winning Plan

We’re also super happy that DCNR’s Bureau for Recreation & Conservation has agreed to work with the PA SHPO on the next statewide comprehensive historic preservation plan as a member of the State Plan Task Force!

Carlisle wins the 2016 Strong Towns award!

Carlisle, PA, a small borough of 19,000 and one of Pennsylvania’s 45 Certified Local Governments, won the 2016 Strong Towns award, narrowly beating Hoboken, NJ by only 4% of the votes. The Strong Towns organization, a national non-profit dedicated to creating financially strong and resilient cities, towns, and neighborhoods through smart development, sponsored the award to celebrate and tell others about the places where “everyday people …working together to improve their neighborhoods and towns, with results to show for it.” After vetting dozens of applications from across the country, the Strong Towns settled on 16 that matched Carlisle – the only town in PA to apply – and small towns and cities, rural to urban, across the country like Boulder, CO, Pasadena, CA, Fargo, ND, and Annapolis, MD.

Community members gather at the Herberlig-Parlmer Park in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a clean up day coordinated by the West Side Neighbors Association. Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Community members gather at the Herberlig-Parlmer Park in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a clean up day coordinated by the West Side Neighbors Association. Photo courtesy of Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

One of the things the Strong Towns folks noted that almost all of these places had in common? Historic downtowns that they had worked hard to preserve. As a CLG, the Borough demonstrates their commitment to historic preservation and celebrating Carlisle’s many historical and architectural assets like their historic downtown. Carlisle was also one of the lucky places chosen to participate in the Orton Family Foundation’s Heart & Soul program, which is currently taking place in a number of Pennsylvania’s communities thanks to the Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

Another reason to visit Jefferson County

PA SHPO staff who attended the Society Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) conference in April told me about this great place in Pine Creek Township, Jefferson County for an archaeology Shout-Out. The Scripture Rocks Heritage Park will have its grand opening on Saturday, June 11th with a dedication ceremony and guided tours.

Survey of Scripture Rocks.

Survey of Scripture Rocks.

The Jefferson County History Center and the SPA Norfolk Chapter 29 have been working hard for 6 years to complete the Scripture Rocks Heritage Project, which is a free outdoor museum and park with miles of wooded trails that take visitors throughout the area to see the mysterious carved sandstone boulders that Douglas M. Stahlman engraved between 1910 and 1913 as part of his personal religious calling.   Visitors can use the trail guide and interpretive panels to understand the engravings and their meanings and learn about local history, lumber heritage, wildlife, geology, and a small prehistoric archaeological site. Scripture Rocks was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and the same year received a $10,000 Keystone Historic Preservation planning grant to create a detailed cultural heritage resource site map of the Port Barnett Scripture Rock.

As always, my last SHPO Shout-Out is to thank you for all the good work you do every day to preserve, protect, and promote our historic places!


If you or your friends and colleagues are involved in or hear about great preservation happening in Pennsylvania,

please email me at ssplain@pa.gov with your suggestions! While I can’t promise that it will get covered in the monthly Shout-Out, I can promise that we’ll add it to our growing list of great preservation work happening across Pennsylvania. Thanks!