Many of the PA-SHPO’s partners shared my enthusiasm for the 30th anniversary of the Keystone Grant program and submitted a proposal to the grant program in March.

This year’s awardees include 44 projects that showcase the breadth of preservation happening across the Commonwealth. From historic barns and park pavilions to historic theaters and county courthouses, the selected projects highlight the varied historic resources to preserve for future generations.

Projects range from preserving character-defining features to improving visitor experience at historic museums to returning properties to period-appropriate appearance to documenting untold stories within the National Register program.

As Pennsylvania closes out its current Statewide Historic Preservation plan, those opportunities highlighted in 2018 still ring true: despite the challenges communities face to preserve their historic buildings and archaeological sites, there are many positive things happening.

This includes the little things that help sustain the historic place and encourage the rest of us to make a difference. The Keystone grant program makes those small things happen.

We saw an 11% increase in applications for the program in this round which reinforces the need not only for both pre-development and planning dollars but also funding for capital projects at the Commonwealth’s historic sites.

Here are just a few of the projects from this year’s funded applications:

The City of Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) will update the historic context and National Register documentation of the Manchester Historic District (1975RE00230) beyond its original Criterion C architectural area of significance to include its association to later civil rights and community development initiatives.

Row of 3-story brick houses with front porches.

Manchester Historic District, North Avenue and Fontella Street, Pittsburgh. Photograph by Bill Callahan, PA SHPO.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (Pittsburgh, Allegheny County) will undertake much needed repairs to the Valley Refuge Shelter in Pittsburgh’s Riverview Park (2020RE00142). Constructed in 1940, the pavilion is a well-loved historic property embodying National Youth Association investment and decades of community use, remaining a popular public amenity and event space serving local residents. The project includes repairs to its roof, masonry, electrical systems, plumbing, and surrounding sitework to honor its historical value and ensure its future use.

New Brighton Historical Society (New Brighton Borough, Beaver County) will continue their restoration work at the Irish-Townsend House (2021RE00123) focusing on the rear east elevation.  The two-story brick Italianate house is an important local example of a mid-19th century prominent residence featuring various stylistic influences. Its period of significance is 1855-c.1864, covering the initial construction of the property for Lydia Irish and presumed changes for the next owners, William and Sarah Townsend.

One woman and one man stand outside on walkway in front of open porch.

Elizabeth Rairigh, PA SHPO Preservation Services Division Chief and J. Michael Spratt, President of the New Brighton Historical Society speak in front of the restored front porch of the Irish-Townsend House during a recent site visit. Photograph by Jennifer Thornton, PA SHPO staff.

LancasterHistory (Lancaster Township, Lancaster County) will restore the rear porch of President James Buchanan’s home, Wheatland (1961RE00031) in Lancaster, PA. The porch is an important space for interpretive activities, serving as the introduction for all tours of the home. The project includes the development of architectural construction drawings; replacement of inappropriate cedar shingles with slate shingles that reflect period documentation; and period-appropriate finishes (gutters, trim, and painting).

Large two-story brick building surrounded by grass and trees.

Wheatland’s rear porch today, where President James Buchanan managed his 1856 “porch” campaign for United States Presidency. Photo by Karen Arnold, PA SHPO staff.

Readers may remember the recent blog post about Wheatland’s early preservation efforts by the Junior League of Lancaster or its prior planning initiatives that informed this project.

You may also remember another blog post efforts to preserve the Henry Ossawa Tanner House (1976RE00293) by the Friends of the Tanner House c/o Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia (Philadelphia). Their request to support both a historic structure report and preservation plan for the National Historic Landmark, located in North Central Philadelphia received a grant. The report will strategize a vision for its revitalization and re-use with attention to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

The Susquehanna County Historical Society (Susquehanna County) also received a grant to complete window rehabilitation to its 1907 building, located at 18 Monument Street, Montrose.  The Susquehanna County Historical Society and Free Library Association building, designed by architects Cope & Stewardson of Philadelphia, is a contributing property to the Montrose Historic District (1978RE01095).  The scope of work includes restoration of windows including repair of window frames, sills, and sashes; preparation and painting; and any necessary lead abatement.

Grantees will start their projects by late Summer.  PA-SHPO staff are excited to work with these organizations and municipalities to ensure that preservation is an outcome in their communities.

Keep an eye out in your social media feeds for more information about these and other Keystone funded projects in your communities.  Be sure to review the whole list of this year’s recipients in this press release.  Congratulations to this year’s recipients!