Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

Updated Forms and Guidance from the SHPO

StaffRegionsBite off more than you can chew, then chew it. Plan more than you can do, then do it.
– Anonymous

It’s that time of the year for excess chewing, and it’s also timely for the Bureau to take a mid-plan stretch (after a turkey-induced slumber) and to regain focus on evaluating the accomplishments of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Historic Preservation Plan, Building Better Communities: The Preservation of Place, 2012-2017.  The Plan includes an ambitious Action Agenda that was developed with the direct intent of being highly responsive to public needs and desires.   While the Plan was created for all Pennsylvanians and depends on assistance and full participation for it to be successful, Goal 5’s objectives and strategies resulted from some internal soul-searching. 

The Bureau for Historic Preservation has been actively working toward implementing Goal 5 and we’ve tackled a number of the Actions including:

  •  Action 5.6: Establish a committee to develop more creative and effective mitigation strategies.
  • Action 5.7: Develop methods to increase communication between BHP divisions and community preservation coordinators.
  • Action 5.9: Reorganize BHP staffing to provide more effective operations and regional outreach.
  • Action 5.12: Improve ease of use and content of BHP’s website.
  • Action 5.14: Improve user-friendliness of CRGIS.
  • Action 5.16: Create a communication coordinator position that is responsible for developing training, special events, social media, and other collaborative outreach.
  • Action 5.21: Strengthen BHP’s internship program.

We recognize there is much left to do but our sleeves are still rolled up and we’re making progress.  We’ve restructured staff into three regional teams with each team made up of program staff from: National Register & Survey, Project Review (above ground & archaeology), Community Preservation, as well as liaisons from CRGIS and Incentives (grants, tax credits, and Historical Markers).  Staff points of contact for each region can be found on this downloadable map.  We’re also continuing to make improvements to our web pages in an effort to share information more easily.  Some outcomes over the past year+ include updates to forms and guidance documents and the creation of new guidelines.   New (or newly updated) forms and guidance are outlined below:

Documenting/Recording Historic Properties:


  • How to Complete the Historic Resource Survey Form – (HRSF) Instructions
    The Historic Resource Survey Form (HRSF) was designed to collect information needed by the Bureau for Historic Preservation to assess the eligibility of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and for project review under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Pennsylvania History


  • HRSF Abbreviated Fillable Form
    The purpose of this form is to eliminate excessive documentation of properties that are clearly not eligible for the National Register and standardize documentation for preliminary/Phase I surveys. The abbreviated HRSF may also be used during a reconnaissance survey or planning survey when a large number of properties are being recorded.



  • Tutorial – Locating USGS Topographic Maps
    A tutorial to assist users recording historic or archaeological sites with locating and preparing proper USGS topographic maps for submission to the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.


  • Bridge Survey Form
    A companion survey form to send along with an HRSF to record specific bridge features.


Project Review:


  • Guidelines for Projects with Potential Visual Effects in Pennsylvania
    Guidance for the identification and assessment of effects of proposed transmission towers, cell towers, wind turbines, highways and new construction on historic buildings, structures, and landscapes. The document outlines the process necessary for the identification of those resources where the introduction of new visual elements would diminish integrity, thereby significance and a property’s National Register eligibility. Guidelines for the assessment of adverse visual effects are also included.



National Register & Survey: 

  • Guidelines for National Register Submissions
    This document supplements the National Register Bulletin How to Complete the National Register Registration Form and provides specific procedures for preparing National Register nominations for properties in Pennsylvania.



  • Historic Contexts web page: update is underway
    This newly-designed web page organizes historic contexts by National Register Areas of Significance. In addition to the updated web page, all context documents will be accessible in the near future by searching “Archaeological and Historic Survey” reports through the Ask ReGIS function of the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System.



Tax Credits: 


Change is on the horizon so you can anticipate more to come in 2015 as we work toward further implementation of the statewide historic preservation plan.   Merry Winterval!

1 Comment

  1. Chris Magoc

    Good morning. The link above: “How to Complete the Historic Resource Survey Form” appears dead…or it just will not come up for me. Any chance there is another way access this? After a site visit from Bill Callahan, we are preparing an updated HRSF for Mercyhurst University in Erie, to include Old Main, Christ the King Chapel, Egan Hall, and the Grotto. We could use a good step-by-step guide on how to do a successful multiple structure HRSF, or a model or two of similar multiple-structure HRSFs would also be helpful. Thanks in advance for your assistance.

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