PlanPhilly

Preservation

    • Conceptual plan for Lancaster Mews presented at Architectural Committee, May 2016

Lancaster Mews redevelopment gets architectural committee support

Lancaster Mews was designated historic in 2015 in response to a demolition threat. A developer was eyeing the block-sized lot, lined with late 19th century mixed-use buildings, and neighbors got wind…

    • Chinese Cultural Center, 125 N. 10th Street, May 2016

Conservatorship approved to stabilize Chinese Cultural Center

The Chinese Cultural Center’s richly ornamented, timeworn façade lords over 10th Street just north of the Friendship Gate. It is one of Chinatown’s most expressive buildings, but its wood balconies and…

    • Tacony Music Hall

Tacony's new historic district nomination adds momentum to neighborhood revival

All the right signs seem to be there: The first bakery in the neighborhood in 15 years recently opened. The old Carnegie Library is being preserved and expanded with a modern…

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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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