PlanPhilly

Preservation

    • St. Laurentius' interior, January 2017, courtesy of Philadelphia Historical Commission

Interior nomination for St. Laurentius withdrawn

Friday’s meeting of the Philadelphia Historical Commission added the latest complication to the ongoing saga of St. Laurentius church. The Fishtown site took up an hour of debate and ended with…

    • St. Mary of the Assumption, Manayunk, 2012 | Bas Slabbers for NewsWorks (file)

Redevelopment approach to St. Mary's site frustrates Manayunk neighbors

In a community as dense as Manayunk, any development proposal that will bring more housing units and fewer parking spaces faces a tough fight from longtime residents who feel the neighborhood…

    • Former Weisbrod and Hess brewery complex | Andrew Fearon, used in nomiation

Nine properties recommended for historic designation to finish 2016

After the fireworks around St. Laurentius that kicked off the December 14 meeting of the historical designation committee, there were another 12 properties on the agenda. Some proved just as contentious…

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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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