Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Tag: Penn State University

Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project Wins National Award

By. Dr. Sally McMurry

The term “gray literature” well conveys the level of visibility for much work done at agencies like the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office.  Historic Structures Reports, National Register nominations, exhibits, and drawings may have limited long-term public exposure even though they are often  based on high-quality research and analysis.  The Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) has recognized that these efforts often make exemplary contributions to our understanding of the built environment, and the organization honors such work through the Paul E. Buchanan Award.  VAF spokesman Michael Chiarappa has characterized the award as a “testament to VAF’s commitment to civic engagement and the idea that broad participation in the study and understanding of vernacular landscapes provides an indispensible social good.”  We are proud to announce that the Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project is the 2013 winner.   Continue reading

Preserving the Oley Valley Rural Historic District in Pennsylvania

by Brenda Barrett

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in the Living Landscape Observer and appears here with the permission of the author and founder of that publication, Brenda Barrett.  We appreciate Brenda’s contributions and reporting on this subject.

Oley Valley gristmill.  Credit: Zachary Pyle.

Oley Valley gristmill. Credit: Zachary Pyle.

Even in a state famous for its agricultural landscapes, the Oley Valley in southeast Pennsylvania is an exceptional place. Located in a in a bowl-shaped valley flanked by the forested hills of the Reading Prong and underlain by limestone, the region is drained by two small creeks, the Manataway and the smaller Monocacy. English Quakers, French Huguenots, and Palatine farmers from Switzerland and Germany settled in the valley as early as 1725 in search of religious freedom and good farmland. They found both, producing an 18th-century pattern of farmsteads, fields, and villages that has marked the landscape ever since. Continue reading

The Agricultural History Project: Agricultural Regions Map

Did you know that the Lehigh Valley was once a major producer of potatoes? Or that Tioga County had a robust tobacco-growing industry? Or that Southwestern Pennsylvania was known for its sheep farms? The list of agricultural products grown and produced in Pennsylvania over the past 300 years is as long and diverse as the state is large. When you put all of these pieces of information on a map, some very interesting and unexpected patterns emerge, and these patterns have a lot to tell us about why our agricultural buildings and landscapes look the way that they do. Continue reading

The Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project: Researcher’s Guide

The Pennsylvania Agricultural History Project involved a unique partnership among the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania State University with funding from the Federal Highway Administration and the federal Preserve America program.  An outcome of the project is a comprehensive website that addresses the scope and character of Pennsylvania’s agricultural resources.  Research for the project began in 2001.  We are proud to release the culmination of this 12+ year partnership on our website at:

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