PlanPhilly

Preservation

    • 4125 chestnut street

Construction continues on apartments planned atop oldest African American graveyard in West Philadelphia

There are no plans to halt construction on an apartment building under development in University City, despite the discovery of a 192-year-old African American cemetery on the site. Vaughan Buckley, the builder…

    • Robinson building, 1020 Market Street | Ashley Hahn, January 2018

On Market East, an unusual fight in old battle pitting preservation against progress

By Ashley Hahn Market Street east of City Hall was one of Philly’s great shopping streets. After years of decline, the tide has shifted, bringing new development to parts of this…

    • The Dox Thrash House

A new approach to preserving black Philadelphia

In a part of the city undergoing massive redevelopment, a young design-minded activist is working to make sure that a piece of African American history survives and thrives amid the change.…

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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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