I’ve got some great SHPO Shout-Outs to share with you this month, and I’m anxious to get started! I would be remiss, though, in my duties as Education and Outreach Coordinator if I didn’t share some exciting updates about our Community Connections public outreach effort for the next statewide historic preservation plan. ICYMI, you can check out this blog from Monday to learn what we and our Partners have been up to lately and find out about your chance to hang out with Preservation PA’s Mindy Crawford, PA SHPO staff, and some of our local partners at an Open House coming soon to a community near you.
Kudos York County Planning Commission!
I have recently learned that the York County Commissioners unanimously approved in August the county’s first-ever historic preservation component for the York County Comprehensive Plan. This new component will make the case for why York County’s historic places and spaces are important and provide the foundation upon which county planners can assist municipalities with historic preservation policy and programming. This is a great model for proactive preservation!
Celebrating a Silver Anniversary
PA SHPO’s Scott Doyle attended the September 10, 2016 event to recognize the 25th anniversary of Bucks County Community College’s Historic Preservation Program. Founded in 1991, the program has provided both in class and online preservation education to thousands of students. The event was attended by over 100 people including past and current faculty and administration, graduates, current students and partners from the National Park Service, PA SHPO, and Fairmount Park Conservancy. The program is the oldest community college certificate program in the country and is the recipient of four HABS Charles E. Peterson Prize awards which recognizes the best set of measured drawings prepared to HABS standards by students.
Great Opportunity to learn why the Kinzua Viaduct is so cool:
This Shout-Out goes to PA DCNR, the Kinzua Bridge Foundation, the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, and all the other partners that made this happen. The new Visitor Center at Kinzua Bridge State Park houses two exhibit halls, a lobby, park offices, restrooms, classrooms, and the first “PA Wilds Conservation Shop” that features local and regional crafts and products. I’m shouting about a new building – which might not make much sense – because the exhibit spaces will help visitors better understand the history of the Kinzua Viaduct, the history and geography of the area, the importance of the Viaduct as an engineering marvel, and the broader impacts of the Industrial Revolution on American transportation and industry.
If you’re not familiar with this place, here is the scoop: This 339-acre state park is home to the Kinzua Viaduct, an 1882 Erie Railroad iron bridge once billed as the “8th Wonder of the World” because of its astounding 301′ tall and 2,053′ long dimensions. It was quickly replaced as the highest and longest bridge in North America, and by 1900 was rebuilt as an upgraded steel bridge. By the 1950s, the bridge was deemed obsolete and was eventually purchased by the commonwealth for outdoor recreation in 1963. In 2003, a tornado destroyed part of the 103-year-old bridge and eight years later the Viaduct was reinvented as a skywalk, which is a 600′ long pedestrian walkway from the remaining support towers that allows visitors to get a unique view of the Kinzua Gorge from the walkway or through the partial glass platform.
Making Progress in Danville!
I happened to catch this great article the other day about a very promising project happening in Danville, Montour County. The Danville Business Alliance has been around since 2001 and doing some great economic and community development work ever since. Their most recent endeavor is a project to convert the former Capitol Theater into the Danville Arts Center, a community-based arts and event center. The Capitol opened in 1936 and, while it has seen it’s share of alteration, its retains some of the great original spaces like the stage, screen and curtain, and orchestra pit survive. The new venue will include space for meetings and conferences, movies, concerts and live performances, art exhibits, and more.
A Keystone Historic Preservation project grant from the PA SHPO in 2014 helped to fund a feasibility study for the re-use of the property, which showed that the building still has good bones and the project is economically feasible. This is an important milestone for the Alliance and the feasibility study now provides them with the foundation they need to move forward with gathering the $5 million they need for development and construction costs.
As always, thank you for all you do to help preserve, protect, and promote Pennsylvania’s historic places and spaces!