PlanPhilly

Preservation

    • A session on some bricks-and-mortar rebuilding tips. | Jordan Cassway for PennPraxis

A Neighborhood Preservation Toolkit created by Philadelphians, for Philadelphians

To many, preservationist might seem a limiting definition, applying to those dedicated to saving individual buildings where famous people were born or died, or where significant events took place. Preservationist can…

    • Hickman Temple AME Church, its facade reinforced and its doors open for its first Sunday service since April 2017.

Hickman Temple AME celebrates a win in the effort to preserve its historic church

Hickman Temple AME dominates the corner of 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. This block-long, century-old church of slate and stone is a neighborhood icon in Cedar Park, a…

    • Freedom Theatre's exterior, where some flaking of the facade's surface can be seen above the sign facing Master Street.

Freedom Theatre's venerable home struggles to rebound from a very wet season

Freedom Theatre is having a tough year. For decades, this sprawling 1850s-mansion in North Philadelphia served as a vibrant hub for African-American artists, but the building — and the historic institution…

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ABOUT PRESERVATION

Historic preservation is a professional endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historic significance. Urban design practitioners have assigned the preservation of historic sites and properties varying levels of importance over the last century. However, the importance of maintaining a sense of context and understanding for the forms that preceded us has increased over the last thirty years for many reasons. The market, as well as the urban design discipline itself, has moved us to understand and appreciate that a site’s history and context is an integral part of urban planning.

Government has responded accordingly; the federal branch has established a process by which tax breaks are awarded to developers renovating historic sites, and many local governments have the power to permanently ban demolition of any structure with a certain level of historical significance.

There are now local and regional historical commissions charged with protecting local jewels of the past, though many buildings of the same typology were destroyed decades ago without concern.  In Philadelphia, the Historical Commission reviews any proposed change to properties on the Local Register of Historic Places, which prevents these property owners from making significant exterior changes without approval.  The Register is mainly comprised of individual properties, though there are “historic districts” that are protected, such as Society Hill.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN PRESERVATION

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