Thanks to generous support from the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, Erie Community Foundation, the Perry 200 Commission, and individuals, Preservation Erie has launched an unprecedented county-wide inventory of historic resources. The goal of this project is to provide baseline information to be used in the development of historic preservation plans that can be accepted, adopted and implemented by governments throughout the county. The inventory will enable communities, property owners, organizations, and agencies to better appreciate the cultural and economic value of historic buildings and sites in their communities and assist civic leaders in planning for their protection and integration into economic revitalization strategies.
Preservation Erie is excited to be working with Wise Preservation Planning, an experienced historic preservation planning firm based in Chester Springs, PA. The firm’s principals, Robert Wise and Seth Hinshaw, have more than 30 years of experience with municipal historic preservation planning, preparing historic resource impact studies and historic structure reports, GIS mapping, and conducting specialized trainings for historic preservation commissions. They are certified through the PA Historical & Museum Commission Cultural Resource Essentials program and have certificates in Community Planning from the PA Municipal Planning Education Institute. Wise Preservation Planning has produced an impressive portfolio of 26 National Register nominations for individual properties, districts and landmarks, 12 municipal-wide surveys of all historic resources 50 years old and older, and approximately 10,000 documented historic resources.
Focusing first on historic resources within the cities of Erie and Corry, over the next 3-4 months Wise Preservation Planning will identify, document and map all 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. The remainder of the county will be inventoried in late spring and summer.
The inventory will be completed in accordance with the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Plan (PHPP) and the Bureau for Historic Preservation Guidelines for Comprehensive Surveys.
The last historic resource inventory or survey to be conducted in Erie County occurred in 1982. That document has been a primary research tool for architects, municipal staff, property owners, realtors, historical society/museum staff/volunteers, genealogists and more. Although the survey remains a valuable research tool, it is now 30 years old. Properties have been demolished or altered and other structures now meet the criteria for historic resources.
The results of the 2014 historic resource inventory will be added to the State’s Cultural Resources Geographic Information System, a map-based inventory of the historic and archaeological sites and surveys stored by the Bureau for Historic Preservation (BHP). Web access to all of the historic resource data will be open to the public. Electronic copies of the final inventory will be made available to all municipalities in Erie County, the Erie County Public Library, Erie County Historical Society, Erie Yesterday, the Erie Downtown Improvement District and other interested groups.
When asked about the significance of the historic resource inventory, Mr. Wise stated, “We have completed surveys in one form or another throughout Pennsylvania. A properly mapped and documented resource inventory often becomes the basis for historic resource protection, planning and community revitalization. Current technology already utilized will greatly enhance the survey product and help communities throughout the county make informed land use decisions.”