Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Preservation50: Celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act

Ah, 1966… A gallon of gas costs 32 cents… the Dow Jones reaches a high of 950… Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California… Star Trek premieres on NBC and leads us into the final frontier… Robert Venturi’s observation on modernist architecture – Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture – is published… AND the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 is passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

Even if you forgot the price of gas in 1966, at this point I believe you are all aware that 2016 is the golden anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.  We were so excited about the upcoming anniversary that you may remember we started talking about this in a December 2014 blog post!  Throughout the country, preservation-minded communities, individuals, organizations and state and federal agencies are celebrating the anniversary through a nationwide Preservation 50 campaign. We encourage everyone to visit the Preservation 50 website and join the PA SHPO in this national effort.all logos

Rather than continue to celebrate past accomplishments, the PA SHPO is focusing our Preservation 50 efforts on celebrating the communities, resources and individuals that make preservation happen in Pennsylvania in 2016.  To do so, we need your help to identify ongoing historic preservation efforts throughout Pennsylvania.  You may ask “What do you want to hear from me?”  Among a never-ending list of possibilities, we want to you to tell us:

  • Do you know of a community that needs help in designating a historic district?
  • Is there a municipality that needs assistance in preparing a sound preservation ordinance?
  • Which historic central business district could benefit from rehabilitation efforts?
  • Is there an individual or group in your community that worked to improve, interpret, promote or preserve a valued historic resource or district?
  • Did a state or federal agency project enhance the historic resources in your community?
  • Did your family have a positive experience at a historic site?
  • Do you live or work in a historic building? Or regularly shop and dine in a historic district?
  • Do you appreciate the educational value and cultural significance of an archaeological site?
Conference goers gathered on the Plaza for this great photo. Image courtesy of Preservation Pennsylvania.

Conference goers gathered on the Plaza for this great photo. Image courtesy of Preservation Pennsylvania.

Gathering the Preservation50 stories and experiences from across Pennsylvania will also help guide and inform our statewide planning process.  Later this year we will be begin laying the groundwork for our next statewide historic preservation plan for 2018-2022 and telling us your stories is a great way to make sure your voice is heard.  By learning about your experiences, the PA SHPO can help other Pennsylvanians build off your successes and create a responsive statewide preservation program that incorporates your priorities and benefit our historic communities and all who take advantage of them.

In addition to our preservation crowd-sourcing, we are also working with partners like Preservation PA on a series of programs and promotional efforts.  Right now, these ideas are in the works:

  • Designation of 5 (more or less) communities which have 10 preservation accomplishments (the idea is… 5 x 10 = 50!)
  • Develop a press package/communication plan in partnership with Preservation PA to get the preservation word out far and wide in Pennsylvania
  • Participate in the National Park Service’s social media campaign for Pennsylvania the week of August 8, 2016
  • Develop a plan for a future Section 106 archaeology/artifacts exhibit in partnership with State Museum
  • Participate in the designation of Preservation Award(s) in partnership with Preservation PA
  • Assist in coordinating PA’s Statewide Conference on Heritage in the summer of 2016
  • Staff the PA Historic Preservation Board Committee for Preservation50
  • Develop a robust blog calendar of Preservation50 posts
  • Contribute Preservation50 related articles for Pennsylvania Heritage magazine
  • Plan activities for Preservation Month in May & Archaeology Month in October
  • Develop a community tool box for what municipalities can do / resolution template for municipal adoption

Our goal is to look to the future – the next 50 years – as we fulfill the mission of the National Historic Preservation Act.  The PA SHPO strives to be a state leader in promoting the positive benefits of historic preservation, but we understand the majority of preservation successes occur at the local level – and often independent of any PA SHPO involvement. And let’s hope these successes are not in spite of PA SHPO involvement!  Based on 50 years of implementation, one can admit that no federal law is perfect.  But as preservation leaders, we can acknowledge, support, and promote the groundbreaking (and often back-breaking) work you are doing.

To participate in in the Preservation50 effort, please send us an email to highlight your preservation success story. In addition, our statewide partner – Preservation Pennsylvania – is hosting a Preservation Pennsylvania 50 website to promote your stories and your Preservation50 community events.  Thank you and please join us in celebrating Preservation50!

1 Comment

  1. Liz Hand

    Dear Mr. Vaughan,

    Pittsburgh is established in the preservation movement and I plan to get more involved. I would love to receive emails about preservation in Pa.



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