Preservation Erie (formerly Erie Center for Design & Preservation) was formed in late 2007 by a group of Erie residents who believe first and foremost that the future of this region is deeply rooted in its past. We believe that the built landscape of Erie and northwest Pennsylvania is a tangible expression of our richly layered social, cultural, and industrial history. Along with the natural landscape, it is the built environment that shapes our collective regional identity and sense of place. The houses and barns and industrial buildings that line city streets and dot the countryside reflect both vernacular style and every major architectural period of our nation’s history. The rail lines and smokestacks, bridges and sidewalks, the unique and quirky signs and decorative features that mark many of our old commercial buildings, and the soaring civic spirit that marks our public architecture and the design of our public parks—all of these say much about what we have achieved in this area and who we are as a people. These places speak of not only a legacy of struggle and achievement, but of concern for beauty and sensitivity to careful design.
However, dramatic changes since the end of World War II—many of them driven (literally) by the automobile—fractured and shredded much of the rhythm and pattern and charm and density of urban and small town environments all across the nation. The result is a built landscape increasingly shaped for cars: homogenous suburban strip malls, isolated residential communities, vanishing countryside, hollowed out cities and small towns, and an uninspiring uniformity in our built environment that diminishes us as a people.
The Preservation Erie aspires to engage like minded individuals, civic leaders, agencies, and organizations in a regional discussion about the need to reverse course. We seek to create public policies that link the potential of historic preservation and smart urban design with a strategy for sustainable development that can rejuvenate our region.
We are an entirely volunteer organization. If you believe the future of northwest Pennsylvania should be grounded in its past, we invite you to be part of our work—by becoming a member, by contributing ideas and photographs of your favorite building or place, or by attending our next public event. You may contact Preservation Erie at [email protected] or via our Facebook page.