PlanPhilly

Preservation

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Should a former Philly bathhouse gain landmark status because of its place in LGBTQ history?

Back when homosexuality was illegal in Philadelphia, the Camac Baths offered a safe place for queer subculture to exist. On April 12th, the Philadelphia Historical Commission will vote on whether…

    • The Wharton Centre at 22nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A historic haven for black Philadelphians slated for demolition

A string of buildings that once housed one of the city’s first social service providers for black Philadelphians are set to meet the wrecking ball. The Wharton Centre was founded in…

    • The former Chinese Cultural & Community Center on North 10th Street. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Chinatown landmark spared the wrecking ball, for now

The Philadelphia Historical Commission is helping the owners of a Chinatown landmark remake plans for the pagoda-topped building after an earlier redevelopment proposal sparked community outcry. A Historical Commission staffer said…

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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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