PlanPhilly

Preservation

    • The Royal's masonry is in fragile condition due to mortar loss and extensive biogrowth.

Royal Theater's reuse not feasible without subsidy

After 45 years of vacancy, is the historic Royal Theater so far gone that its reuse is no longer feasible? The Royal’s owners will have to convince the Philadelphia Historical Commission…

    • The Philadelphia Archdiocese has applied for a permits to demolish Fishtown’s St. Laurentius Church. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A matter of opinion in Fishtown: St. Laurentius estimates

As the battle over the fate of St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown moves into its next phase, a common paradox in preservation debates arises again: dueling estimates. Professionals hired by the…

    • The twin homes at 145-147 Sumac St. are described as rare examples of Eastlake Victorian architecture. (Bas Slabbers/for NewsWorks)

Historic recognition won't save Roxborough house from demolition

Roxborough house that has had a demolition notice on the front door for more than a month was recommended for historic designation earlier this month. The Philadelphia Historical Commission's…

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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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