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Planning and Historic Preservation

Planning, as a profession, has an obligation to be visionary - yes, even when planning for historic resources! Preservationists, working alongside planners, can produce a practical and useful approach toward realizing the future of our communities. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in recent years has devoted a tremendous amount of energy and resources into linking historic preservation strategies with sound land use planning. Traditional applications of preservation programs do not always result in a positive preservation outcome. Irreplaceable local landmarks are lost daily across Pennsylvania. Historic preservation strategies coupled with sound municipal planning can help ensure that those places which define our communities - survive to be a part of our future.

Cultural Resources Essentials Overview

The Cultural Resources Essentials (CRE) four-part series was launched in 2008. The program is designed to bring all the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office's partners together in an effort to collaborate, learn from one each other, and determine ways in which federal, state and local programs can intersect to help Pennsylvania's communities preserve their historic character. Over the course of this inaugural series, the Essentials workshops have brought together over 400 individuals who play a role in Cultural Resource Management. CRE evolved and has been refined as participant feedback over the past four years was incorporated into the structure and content of each workshop.

A second goal for this series was to personally introduce our constituents to the SHPO's staff. We manage a number of programs that depend on our constituent's support. Faithfully administering state and federal historic preservation programs requires everyone we work with to provide us with the documentation we need to complete our reviews. From the National Register Program to Project Review under the NHPA and the PA History Code - and from the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program to any of our grant programs - we rely on you to submit the information we need to carry out our work effectively.

The Basics

The first part in the series, The Basics, is scheduled to be offered online in 2014. This is the introductory module to the State Historic Preservation Office and the resources we offer. This module provides an overview of the Federal and State historic preservation programs we administer.

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Record historic properties and archaeological resources
  • Understand the National Register process in Pennsylvania
  • Use cultural resources as community assets
  • Learn about historic preservation incentives
  • Understand the project review process
  • Use CRGIS and "Ask Regis"



In this 2nd module of the series you will learn how the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Office's programs can be applied to community planning efforts and projects. You will gain a more in-depth knowledge of survey methodology, evaluating historic and archaeological resources, and comprehensive historic preservation planning.

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Apply federal and state Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit Programs
  • Understand the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties
  • Understand the Guidelines for Archaeological Investigations in Pennsylvania
  • Evaluate properties for National Register eligibility
  • Develop historic preservation plans

Best Practices

Best Practices is the third module in the Cultural Resources Essentials (CRE) series.

"Best Practices" has become a buzzword that is used in general to communicate a standard way of doing things. Best Practices can be in the details, or conversely, the big picture. Principles of best practices often include the following actions: intention, planning, monitoring, assessment, evaluation, and acknowledgement.

The goal is to take what you learn in this session and put the concepts into practice in your local community and ultimately fold them into your professional responsibilities. The Best Practices module helps you make connections between theory and practice.

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Understand what "historic context" is and how to document it to NPS and PA SHPO standards
  • Assist in the administration of local and regional preservation programs
  • Use CRGIS to put a historic property in perspective


Forum is the final workshop where participants tackle issues similar to those faced by the State Historic Preservation Office. Participants draw from all they've learned in the first three modules to determine how to respond to diverse historic properties, projects, and (sometimes) problems.

Previous case studies have included:

  • Rehabilitation of Bedford Springs and the realignment of SR 220
  • Bridge replacement and rerouting of a primary roadway in Danville
  • Looking at alternative outcomes for the Astor Theater in Reading
  • Lemoyne Borough archaeological mitigation project

Additional Information


Download a list of CRE graduates (PDF)


Consulting firms who have their company's contact person complete the four-part Cultural Resources Essentials series are also acknowledged on the SHPO's Survey and National Register Consultant List (PDF).