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Public input sought on draft of Erie County Cultural Heritage Plan

The Erie County Department of Planning is seeking public comment on Erie County’s draft Cultural Heritage Plan, which will guide efforts to help preserve priority cultural and historic assets over the next five to seven years. The draft plan can be viewed online at

A public meeting will be held Thursday, June 8, 2017, at 6 p.m. in the Admiral Room at Blasco Library, 160 E. Front Street.

The purpose of the meeting will be to solicit public feedback on the plan’s content and its proposed action plan for implementation. The meeting is free and open to the public, and will offer an opportunity to talk face-to-face with representatives from Erie County, Preservation Erie and consultants preparing the plan. Those interested in Erie County’s culture, history, historic preservation or community revitalization are encouraged to attend.

The Cultural Heritage Plan, which is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Erie Community Foundation, is expected to have real and lasting impacts on every community within Erie County. Its content will help community leaders, residents and organizations set priorities, coordinate efforts, increase capacities and identify ways that preservation practices can be bolstered for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and an improved quality of life.

The draft Cultural Heritage Plan, which builds on Preservation Erie’s 2014 project documenting 30,000 historic properties in Erie County, considered how cultural and historic assets can be used to improve the county’s economy and attract people to live, visit, work and invest in its communities. The plan sets forth goals and strategies focused on preserving, maintaining and enjoying these assets, which are a legacy of the county’s rich history. The draft plan further indicates that these benefits will be maximized in the communities where good choices are made about what to preserve, and how to preserve it.

Once adopted, the Cultural Heritage Plan will become an element of Erie County’s Comprehensive Plan. For those unable to attend the public meeting, comments on the draft plan may be submitted in writing to John McGranor, planning program administrator, at

Lawrence Park Historic District National Register Nomination

The Lawrence Park Historical Society, with funding provided by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, have contracted with the historic preservation consulting firm Naylor Wellman, LLC for the creation of a National Register Historic District for Lawrence Park. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of properties recognized by the federal government as worthy of preservation for local, state, or national significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, or culture.

This Historic District will further the sense of place and give identity to the neighborhood while providing the opportunity for historic tax credit projects for income producing buildings located within the District. Historic preservation of these buildings helps to stabilize and increase property values, strengthen the local economy, and enhance the community’s attractions to prospective residents, businesses and tourists. This project does not include creation of a local historic district.

Naylor Wellman will be photographing and documenting the exterior of houses, buildings and institutions located within the proposed Historic District; between Water Street and Smithson Avenue to the east and west, and E. Lake Road and Bell Street to the north and south. The District is representative of a corporate residential community project providing housing for employees of General Electric Company Erie Works. It represents two periods of development; the Townsite Plan and the Garden City plan designed by National Planner, John Nolen. The proposed boundary encompasses historic architectural resources spanning from 1911 to 1968 under the National Register 50-year guideline.

Naylor Wellman, LLC is a women-owned business located in Northeast Ohio. The firm was established in 2013 and specializes in historic building preservation and adaptive-use, architectural history & historic preservation planning with experience spanning 40+ years with projects in OH, CT, IL, IN, MI, NY, PA, and WI. Principals, Wendy and Diana, are registered Preservation Consultants qualified under the Federal Historic Preservation Professional requirements, U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Archeology and Historic Preservation (48 FR 44716).

Public input sought for Erie County Cultural Heritage Plan

Erie County is seeking the public’s help in contributing to a countywide Cultural Heritage Plan.

With the plan, which is a key recommendation of Emerge 2040, the county is taking an important step to better protect its cultural and historic assets. The Cultural Heritage Plan – a joint effort led by the Erie County Department of Planning and by Preservation Erie – will set forth goals, policies and strategies focused on preserving, maintaining and enjoying cultural and historic resources in every Erie County community.

The Erie County Department of Planning is seeking public input related to Erie County’s culture, traditions and historic places, as well as the ways in which they are cared for and protected. Input gathered from an online survey and at public engagement meetings will inform the planning process and help the county and Preservation Erie make decisions about what should be protected and how.

“Erie County’s rich cultural heritage is one of its greatest assets, and this plan takes vital steps toward preserving those traditions,” said Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. “These assets belong to our community, which is why it is so important for the community to help guide how the plan’s priorities take shape.”

The survey is available at and will remain available through January 15. Public engagement meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, December 14, around the county:

  • December 14 at 10 a.m. – Edinboro Borough Building; 124 Meadville St., Edinboro
  • December 14 at 2 p.m. – Girard Borough Social Hall; 34 Main St. W., Girard
  • December 14 at 6 p.m. – Erie Art Museum, 411 State St., Erie (use East Fifth Street entrance)

These meetings, which are free and open to the public, offer opportunities to talk face-to-face with representatives from Erie County and Preservation Erie, local civic leaders and consultants preparing the plan. Everyone interested in Erie County’s culture, history, historic preservation or community revitalization is encouraged to attend.

The Cultural Heritage Plan has the potential to have a substantial impact on economic revitalization, environmental sustainability, quality-of-life enhancements and more in the county. The plan’s content will help community leaders, residents and organizations capitalize on these benefits and will assist civic leaders in including the protection and integration of cultural and historic resources into local planning and zoning efforts.

Preservation Erie to receive award from Preservation Pennsylvania

Preservation Erie is excited to announce that Preservation Pennsylvania has awarded the organization an Initiative Award in Communication for the Erie County Historic Resource Inventory.

Preservation Pennsylvania’s annual awards recognize significant contributions in the field of historic preservation made by both individuals and organizations. Recognition encompasses the categories of preservation initiatives, construction and archaeology projects. The 2016 award presentation is scheduled for October 14th in York, PA.

The county-wide inventory of historic resources was a significant project for our community. The inventory process and public presentations helped spark conversations throughout the county around neighborhood preservation and economic development, and the project was a springboard for initiating work on an Erie County Cultural Heritage Plan.

The Erie County Historic Resource Inventory was funded in part by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, The Erie Community Foundation, the Perry 200 Commission, and individuals. Between December 2013 and May 2015, the consulting firm of Wise Preservation Planning identified, documented and mapped all historic resources and historic districts that are individually listed on, determined to be eligible for, or appear to be eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places and assessed the condition of just under 32,000 properties.


The Greenest Building: Documentary Viewing and Discussion with the Director & Writer


WHEN: Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
WHERE: Jefferson Educational Society, 3207 State Street, Erie

Join us for a viewing of the documentary The Greenest Building with an in-person introduction and discussion with Jane Turville, writer and director of the film.

Over the next 20 years, Americans will demolish one-third of our existing building stock (more than 82 billion square feet) in order to replace seemingly inefficient buildings with energy efficient “green” buildings. The hour-long documentary The Greenest Building poses the question: Is demolition in the name of sustainability really the best use of natural, social, and economic resources? Or, like the urban renewal programs of the 1960s, is this well-intentioned planning with devastating environmental and cultural consequences?

Tickets may be purchased online at

In partnership with Preservation Erie, Green Building Alliance, and Environment Erie

About Jane Turville, B.A.
Ms. Turville received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and interned with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in London, England.  She worked for several architectural firms in Portland, Oregon before leaving architecture to work in nonprofit development and program management.  In addition to having more than 12 years of experience in historic preservation, architectural design, and construction administration, Jane has given presentations on Portland, Oregon’s Old Town historic district and organized sustainability conference workshops for teenagers and adults. Jane began making films in 2005. She is the director/producer/writer/editor of five short narrative films and the recipient of several screenwriting awards. Currently, she is in production on her next project – “The People Factor: Population and Human Well-being” –a six-hour series exploring the many facets and impacts of population growth.  The series is slated for television broadcast in Fall 2016.

$25,000 Grant Awarded for Historic Preservation Planning

AcademyHistoricDistrictThe Erie County Planning Department and Preservation Erie have been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to develop a Cultural Heritage Plan for Erie County. The proposed plan will look at historic preservation plans that have been used in the past, as well as current preservation plans, and develop an action plan to preserve historic resources — for example, buildings and other structures that have played an important role in Erie’s heritage and development and the buildings are in danger of falling into disrepair or being demolished.

This is the second phase of a project that began with local grants to Preservation Erie to conduct an inventory of historic properties built before World War II in Erie County. Wise Preservation Planning has completed that inventory, identifying the most historically significant properties. The inventory can be viewed at

Erie County Department of Planning is pleased to partner with Preservation Erie to complete this plan. Upon completion, a blueprint will be provided for future preservation programs and next steps towards protecting Erie County’s cultural heritage.

The new grant will be used to develop a Cultural Heritage Plan for Erie County by the end of 2017. The grant from PHMC is the first piece of funding secured for the project, and additional funds need to be secured. It is anticipated that the planning process will begin in 2016.

The current concept for this project is to develop a plan that includes the standard components of a comprehensive plan and expands on that model by incorporating the type of content commonly found in heritage area management plans, such as interpretation and marketing.

For more information about Erie County’s historical legacy or if you would like to do a story on some of Erie’s properties that have been preserved or should be preserved, contact Melinda Meyer, Preservation Erie Chair at or (814) 403-1772.

For additional information, contact the Erie County Department of Planning:
Katherine Wyrosdick, Director, Erie County Department of Planning, (814)451-7003
John McGranor, Program Administrator, Erie County Department of Planning, (814)451-7423

Congratulations to the 2015 Greater Erie Award Recipients


On Thursday, April 30 Preservation Erie recognized three local businesses for their contributions to Greater Erie and welcomed leading urbanist John Norquist as the keynote speaker at the 2015 Greater Erie Awards.

The Greater Erie Awards are presented annually by the board of Preservation Erie to three individuals, businesses or organizations that are exceptional stewards of the physical and cultural landscape that is Greater Erie. The 2015 recipients of the Greater Erie Award are:

  • Miller Brothers Power Equipment, in recognition of their commitment to maintain a commercial enterprise in downtown Erie and repurpose one of our City’s well-known historic structures;
  • Latino’s Restaurant & Bar, in recognition of their achievement in creating a true Latin American-styled establishment on Erie’s original Main Street, historic Parade Street;
  • Kerr’s Tire Korner, in recognition of their commitment to maintain an auto-repair and service station in a historic commercial building.

Following the presentation of awards, our keynote speaker John Norquist took the stage. During his presentation, “Adding Value to Erie,” Mr. Norquist recommended re-visioning the city’s zoning code and development practices and patterns, and making the most of our streets and public amenities and assets.

Thank you to our many volunteers and sponsors who helped to make the 2015 Greater Erie Awards a success!

The event was supported, in part, by the Erie Community Foundation, Jefferson Educational Society, Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design, Erie Insurance, SNOOPS Neighborhood Network, Coletech, S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Mercyhurst University, Northwest Restoration, Miller Travel Services, Richard E. Filippi & Associates, and the Erie Art Museum.

Facade Improvement Workshop

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Erie City Councilman Dave Brennan, in partnership with the Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Erie Downtown Partnership and Preservation Erie, is hosting a Facade Improvement Workshop November 13, 2014, 8 am to 12 noon at the UPMC Health Plan – Community Room, 109 Boston Store Place, Erie.

The workshop is FREE and is designed to assist property owners and tenants with facade improvements that will enhance the character of their building and will include programs on façade design, restoration, repair, historic tax credits, and funding. Improving your building facade will show your customers that you care about your neighborhood and want to provide a more welcoming environment for residents and visitors to LIVE, WORK, PLAY, and SHOP!

Please email us at to confirm your attendance by November 10th.



7:30 am Registration / Check-in (coffee, muffins, bagels)

8:00 am Welcome
– Dave Brennan, Erie City Council
– John Buchna, Erie Downtown Partnership
– Melinda Meyer, Preservation Erie

8:15 am Windows – Matthew McLaughlin, Andersen Windows
8:45 am Masonry – Matt Anderson, Northwest Restoration Inc.
9:15 am Design – Jeff Kidder, Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design
9:45 am Coffee Break

10:00 am Historic Tax Credit Incentives – Heather Rudge, Historic Preservation Group, LLC
10:30 am City of Erie Funding Programs – Chris Groner, City of Erie
11:00 am Construction Loans – Karen Clark, DevelopErie and T.J. King, Bridgeway Capital
11:45 am Q & A

Recommendations made to Destination Erie


Over the last three years, Destination Erie worked with residents throughout Erie County to build a more sustainable region by creating a plan to meet the economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st Century.

During Destination Erie’s most recent public ourtreach events, Preservation Erie contributed the following recommendations for project ideas.

Development of Historic Preservation Plans
Preservation is viewed as a concept that encompasses entire landscapes, including open spaces, historic buildings and structures, farmlands, viewsheds and the distinct characteristics found in communities of all sizes. A Historic Preservation Plan provides local units of government a working document to identify these historic, cultural and natural resources in the county or municipality, and via the planning process, civic leadership works in collaboration with the public to consider preservation issues, problems and opportunities associated with those resources, explore the possibility of county-wide and regional approaches to management of important resources, and develop goals, policies and strategies for their appropriate use, conservation, preservation and protection that are consistent with those established for other comprehensive plan elements.

A historic preservation plan should be completed for Erie County. This plan should be incorporated into the County of Erie’s Comprehensive Plan. The Erie County Department of Planning, in partnership with municipal leadership/representatives, Preservation Erie, the Erie County Historical Society, PHMC’s Bureau for Historic Preservation, and other key stakeholders, can use this plan to assist in the development of localized historic preservation plans that can be accepted, adopted and implemented by the county’s 38 municipalities. Through the planning process, concepts such as zoning regulations, design review guidelines and requirements for new and existing structures, preservation easements, preservation commissions, historic architectural review boards, historic marker programs, homesteading, land banks, mothballing of historic structures, and advocacy and public education should be vetted.

Create Resources for Property Owners
We refer to the range of programs, laws, and financial incentives that are used to help protect and enhance historic places as the preservation “toolbox.” The tools in the toolbox include – but are not limited to – planning and zoning regulations, grants, tax credits, state or Federal laws, and resources/programs for homeowners.

While some historic and cultural resources are owned and maintained by local governments, a tremendous number of historic homes, farms and commercial buildings are owned and cared for by individual property owners. In an effort to preserve the character and appeal of our downtowns and rural communities (for all of the reasons listed previously), and promote proper care of structures 50 years old and older, new resources/programs should be created and existing resources/programs (Erie Downtown Partnership, SNOOPS, Little Italy Neighborhood Network, Erie Redevelopment Authority, Community Development Block Grant Program) should be strengthened to provide property owners technical assistance regarding building repairs and ongoing maintenance, materials, and contractors and tradesmen, and financial assistance in the form of loans, grants and/or tax incentives. For example, a municipality may allow a tax break for single family residential property owners who are within a Historic District who have restored their structures according to the Department of the Interior standards.

Development of a County-Wide Interpretation Plan for Historic and Cultural Assets
Erie Places, Erie Stories is a dual-faceted project aimed at fostering greater appreciation and understanding of Erie County’s historically and architecturally rich built environment. This interpretation project has two main elements—one, an illustrated, interdisciplinary series of streetscape exhibits located at narrowly defined building locales, places of well-documented historical significance in the life of urban centers within Erie County, Pennsylvania. A website with downloadable maps and other materials will accompany the exhibits. The second element is a grassroots effort to engage Erie County residents and citizens’ organizations in surveying the storied buildings and places that give communities personal and collective meaning and infuse built landscapes with unique character. A digitally published “Census of Erie County Places” (which will be ongoing) will be the final product.

Erie Places, Erie Stories will support regional, as well as localized branding and tourism promotion efforts, public education and historic preservation advocacy. It will also inspire pride in community and re-root people in their neighborhoods and urban centers.

Strengthen Training Requirements for Volunteer Civic Leadership
Develop a civic leadership training initiative required for elected and appointed municipal leaders and senior managers of government agencies, and open to emerging leaders from our growing population of New Americans, young professionals, neighborhood associations, etc. The initiative could be structured as an institute or academy in partnership with one or more local college or university, or as a fee-for-service program of the Erie County Planning Department or a nonprofit organization with planning or leadership at the core of its mission. Curriculum should enhance the capacity of people to lead meaningful change and address (at the very least) land use, zoning regulations and code enforcement, understanding government finances and financial position, creating well-defined economic development ecosystems, revitalization strategies, effective citizen participation and the Freedom of Information Act, cross-sector partnerships, competitive bidding and grant writing, and best practices for multi-municipality collaboration.

Establish Urban Growth Boundaries
An urban growth boundary is a planning tool used to control urban sprawl, protect rural lands, focus investment in existing downtowns, main streets and employment areas, and promote efficient use of public services and facilities. Benefits of urban growth boundaries include motivating development and redevelopment of land and buildings in urban cores, helping to keep core (often historic) “downtowns” in business; assurance for businesses and local governments about where to place infrastructure (such as roads and sewers) which will be needed for future development; and efficiency for businesses and local governments in terms of how that infrastructure is built. Implemented in Erie County, this should be a multi-municipality effort.

The Erie urban growth boundary (UGB) should collaboratively execute an intergovernmental agreement between the existing four developed municipalities – City of Erie, Lawrence Park & Millcreek Townships, and Wesleyville Borough – along with the developing next ring of communities of Fairview, McKean, Summit, Greene, and Harborcreek Townships (west to east). Other UGBs could be created between Erie County boroughs (and the City of Corry) and their immediate township neighbors.

Preservation Erie Launches Backstage Erie Tours

BackstageErie_WebAd_2For many, we travel the streets and avenues of the City of Erie and neighboring communities so frequently, we no longer notice the beauty and uniqueness of the built environment that surrounds us. If only there was a way in which we could see these buildings differently. There is.

Preservation Erie has launched a series of “Backstage Erie” tours intended to take people behind-the-scene in places we see, perhaps every day, but haven’t taken the time to explore or learn about.

Our series begins with a visit to the Erie Cemetery on September 18 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Burial Grounds and cemeteries are among the most valuable of archaeological and historic resources.  They are evidence of various settlement patterns, burial practices, cultural and religious influences, economic development, social relationships, and genealogy. Unfortunately, they are one of the most fragile resources to preserve and protect. With this in mind, Mercyhurst University professor Mary Ann Owoc recently completed a typological overview, as well as a preservation and threat assessment for all of the cemeteries in Erie County. Dr. Owoc will provide an overview of her research and take the group through the older sections of the Erie Cemetery to illustrate her findings. We’ll also hear from staff of the Erie Cemetery about their current and upcoming preservation activity. Tickets are $8 per tour for non-members and $5 per tour for Preservation Erie members. Tickets may be purchased online or at the Erie Cemetery’s main office. Refreshments provided.

Purchase Tickets

The next adventure takes us to the old Erie Brewing Company building at 21st and State Streets October 2 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. The building was constructed in the 1890s to house brewing operations and offices and serve as a distribution hub or warehouse. Mark Miller, owner of Miller Brothers Power Equipment, recently rehabilitated the property for his store and will share the history of the building and stories about the rehabilitation work, and will take us on a tour of the original Executive Ratskeller. Tickets are $8 per tour for non-members and $5 per tour for Preservation Erie members. Refreshments provided.

Purchase Tickets

If you have questions, please contact us at