This article is a part of a series from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s excellent field guide on the architectural styles found in Pennsylvania.  In it, they’ve assigned key periods of development – from the Colonial period in the 18th Century to the Modern Movements of the 29th Century.  This article focuses on an overview of the Traditional/Vernacular style in Pennsylvania from 1638 through 1950

PA Architecture Queen Anne Style 1880 – 1910

Identifiable Features

1.  Abundance of decorative elements
2.  Steeply pitched roof with irregular shape
3.  Cross gables
4.  Asymmetrical facade
5.  Large partial or full width porch
6.  Round or polygonal corner tower
7.  Decorative spindlework on porches and gable trim
8.  Projecting bay windows
9.  Patterned masonry or textured wall surfaces including half timbering
10.  Columns or turned post porch supports
11.  Patterned shingles
12.  Single pane windows, some with small decorative panes or stained glass

Late Victorian

For many, the Queen Anne style typifies the architecture of the Victorian age.  With its distinctive form, abundance of decorative detail, corner tower, expansive porches and richly patterned wall surfaces, the Queen Anne style is easy to identify.  High style Queen Anne buildings are often considered local landmarks, ornate and showy attention getters.  This style is present in communities across the country in numerous variations of form and detail.  It was the most popular style for houses in the period from 1880 to 1900, but is often employed for large scale public buildings as well.

The style was first created and promoted by Richard Norman Shaw and other English architects in the late 19th century.  The name refers to the Renaissance style architecture popular during the reign of England’s Queen Anne (1702-1714). Actually, the Queen Anne style is more closely related to the medieval forms of the preceding Elizabethan and Jacobean eras in England.  The style became popular in the United States through the use of pattern books and the publishing of the first architectural magazine “The American Architect and Building News.”  The Queen Anne style evolved from those early English designs to become a distinctly American style with numerous, sometimes regional variations.  The use of three dimensional wood trim called spindlework was an American innovation made  possible by the technological advances in the mass production of wood trim and the ease of improved railroad transport.  While the Queen Anne style can take a variety of forms, certain key elements are commonly found.    Queen Anne buildings almost always have a steep roof with cross gables or large dormers, an asymmetrical front façade, and an expansive porch with decorative wood trim.  A round or polygonal front corner tower with a conical roof is a distinctive Queen Anne feature on many buildings of this style.  Wall surfaces are usually highly decorative with variety of textures from shingles to half timbering, to panels of pebbles or bas relief friezes.

 

 

We recently completed a restoration project of some truly massive doors at the Wilmington Public Library in Delaware.

The library was built in 1922 with the bold shapes and lavish ornaments of the Art Deco style of architecture popular at that time.

We restored a pair 22’6’ tall, 10-panel White Oak and Mahogany pocket doors.  The doors were 4” thick, 4’6” wide each, and badly distressed from years of use and lack of maintenance.  The biggest challenge on this project was getting these giants off.  Obviously this was not your ordinary door removal.

To see just how tricky the removal process was, watch a video of the removal at: http://bit.ly/1riG1tL

Once we hauled the mammoth doors back to the shop, we set to work restoring them with five guys at workstations around the doors.

 

 

When will you be able to upload them?

Every May, the National Trust for Historic Preservation picks a new theme for their National Preservation Month.  This year, they’ve built it around: “See! Save! Celebrate!” to encourage us to see our historic places, save the threatened ones, and celebrate the vital role they play in our communities.

To support that goal, we’re going to do a three-part blog series with each post focusing on one aspect of the theme.  Last week we posted about seeing PA historical architecturewith an overview of the styles found in Pennsylvania and the time period they are associated with, and we gave you resources for saving historic buildings in another blog post.

Now we want to celebrate projects that saved historic buildings in Pennsylvania for future generations and give you a list of ways you can support and encourage historic preservation projects.

First I’m going to begin by tooting our own horn a little bit.  In November of 2011, we began working on a project that looked like this:

historic restoration

 

The Franklin Street Train Station in Reading, PA was originally built in the 1920’s.  In 1972 when Hurricane Agnes destroyed the building, it was abandoned and sat empty until 2011 when the Berks Area Regional Transit Authority began the massive undertaking of restoring the building to its original glory so they could use it as a bus terminal for their public busing system.

After sitting abandoned for 40 years, the building was in terrible shape.  Such terrible shape that in 1999 it was listed as being “At Risk” on the PA At Risk list of threatened historic buildings.  The flooding of Hurricane Agnes did the initial damage, but vagrants and vandals over the years, as well as several fires, decimated the building.

historic building preservation

 

historic building

 

historic preservation

 

Preservation Pennsylvania has released their “Pennsylvania At-Risk: Twenty-Year Retrospective of Pennsylvania’s Endangered Historic Properties, Where Are They Now” edition. It’s a fascinating look at preservation in action and we’ll be posting a look at each property in a series of posts over the next several months.

INTRODUCTION
Preservation Pennsylvania established the annual Pennsylvania At Risk list in 1992, making us the first statewide preservation organization in the United States to have an annual roster of endangered historic properties. Since 1992, we have listed and worked to
preserve more than 200 endangered historic resources, including individual buildings, historic districts and thematic resources statewide. For 2012, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our organization, we are presenting a 20-year retrospective edition of Pennsylvania At Risk. In this issue, we revisit some of the amazing historic places across the Commonwealth, some of which have been rescued from extinction through preservation and rehabilitation efforts, and others that still need our help.

Approximately 18% of Pennsylvania’s At Risk properties have been lost, having been demolished or substantially altered. Another 32% have been saved or are in a condition or situation where the identified threat no longer poses a problem for the historic property. Approximately 50% of the 201 At Risk resources remain in danger, or we have not been able to confirm their current status as either saved or lost.

By monitoring these properties over the past 20 years and working with individuals and organizations trying to preserve them, we have learned many valuable lessons. Those lessons are called out throughout this publication.

 

1994 – Huber Breaker, Luzerne County

Huber Breaker

Photo by  John-Morgan on Flickr

 

• AT RISK •

Built in 1937-1938 by the Glen Alden coal Company, the Huber coal breaker utilized state-of-the-art washing and separating technology to process the output of several collieries into 7,000 tons of marketable coal daily.  The highly efficient breaker delivered purer coal in smaller sizes, a product in high demand in the 20th century. The facility could not overcome strong trends in the energy industry – including competition from other energy sources and the switch from shaft to strip mining, which required different processing technology.  So after nearly 40 years of operation, the breaker was shut down in 1976.

This important industrial property was documented by the Historic American Engineering Record in 1991 and determined eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.  The Huber Breaker Preservation Society, whose mission is to provide for the preservation of the Huber Breaker and for its adaptive reuse as a historic site and park, has been working for decades to preserve the property.    They hold clean-up days at the site and are building a memorial park where they will interpret its history.

Despite the fact that the Borough of Ashley, Luzerne County, and several area organizations have been supportive of its preservation, the Huber Breaker remains at risk today.  The company that owns the property is currently in bankruptcy.  The very real and imminent threat is that once the bankruptcy proceedings are finished, teh breaker may be sold for its estimated $400,000 value in scrap metal, with additional revenues generated by the mineable coal under the property.  Recongizing this threat, the deteriorating Huber Breaker was identified by leaders of historic and preservation groups as the most endangered historic landmark in Luzerne County in 2012.  If the property is to be saved, it must be acquired soon by a new preservation-minded owner with the resources to take on the monumental task of stabilizing and rehabilitating the property so that its story can be told to the public.  These needs certainly pose an additional challenge.

To support the Huber Breaker Preservation Society and help protect this historic property, please visit: www.huberbreaker.org.

 

 

 

Last Wednesday, the Lancaster County Planning Commission hosted strongtowns.org’s “Curbside Chat” presented by Charles Marohn at the Manheim Township Public Library.

“Curbside Chat” is strongtowns.org’s program to discuss the financial realities facing our cities, towns, boroughs, and townships.  The Chat started with the history of what Marohn called the “Suburban Experiment” of new development that shifted homes and businesses outside of towns and into outlying areas.

[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style02″] We often forget that the post-World War II American pattern of development is an experiment.  We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us, but our own history – let alone a tour of other parts of the world – tells a different story. -Charles Marohn[/sws_blockquote_endquote]

How New Development is Financially and Economically Unsustainable

Marohn noted that the financial viability of the  “Suburban Experiment” is based on two assumptions that have not proven to be true:

1: New growth encouraged by suburban development will continue to be ever-accelerating.
2: New growth will create enough revenue to pay off debt incurred to create the infrastructure needed to support suburbanization and pay for the maintenance of that infrastructure.

He went on to present multiple case studies that established a pattern of suburban development (through the creation of infrastructure by local governments) that would take 50 to nearly 100 years to pay off – NOT including the cost of maintenance.    These case studies were not just focused on a particular neighborhood demographic, they included examples from low-density neighborhoods, medium-density neighborhoods, high-value properties, traditional neighborhoods, industrial parks, and commercial districts set in both rural and suburban areas.

Marohn followed the growth studies with a sobering chart on the long-term financial ramifications for local governments using this type of development: after just 20-25 years, the income created by suburbanization (after the expense of maintaining the infrastructure) begins to plummet much more rapidly than it increased during the initial years.  After just 35 years, the expenses of maintaining the development becomes greater than the income it produces and never again returns to a positive cash flow.

Note: The following chart is based on new growth models that include the assumption that new development will be implemented every two years.  If new development is not implemented every two years, the results look even worse than the chart below.

Cumulative Cash Flow - MP2LC

Sobering indeed, isn’t it?

Read more about this “Growth Ponzi Scheme”, including five articles delving into the details of Marohn’s presentation.

 

How Preservation is Financially and Economically Sustainable

It’s not as thought most of us didn’t already know that historic preservation supports financial and economic growth and stability, but the second part of Marohn’s “Curbside Chat” did include solid, and sometimes surprising, evidence for how that happens.

Marohn once again had a wealth of case studies to make the case that the preservation of existing development (even when its at its worst of transient occupancy and rundown buildings, in a state he called “Old & Blighted”) has consistently demonstrated a higher assessed value (that will produce more tax revenues) than what he called the “Shiny & New” big-box model of development that typically includes a single businesses on the same size development lot that traditional development houses multiple businesses and even residences on.

Using an ROI (Return on Investment) based on property taxes and the revenue stream those taxes produce, Marohn’s case studies show that even “Old & Blighted” vernacular downtown areas are valued significantly higher, almost doubled when looking at an overall average, than the “Shiny & New” big box development.

[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”” quotestyle=”style02″] “Our problem was not, and is not, a lack of growth. Our problem is sixty years of unproductive growth. The American pattern of development does not create real wealth; it creates the illusion of wealth. Today we are in the process of seeing that illusion destroyed and with it the prosperity we have come to take for granted.” – Curbside Chat Companion Booklet, page 5 [/sws_blockquote_endquote]

Not only that, Marohn pointed out that “Old & Blighted” development can be stimulated and improved (adding value which would increase the revenue stream) with a much lower investment than those plots that new development sits on.

Perhaps the most interesting example he gave here was an avant-garde approach used by a group of citizens in Memphis, Tennessee.  After repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, petitioning the city to paint parking spots, crosswalks, and bike lanes into a particular downtown area of small, storefront businesses to encourage the community to support those businesses – the citizens decided to take matters into their own hands.  Spending $500 on paint, they painted the parking spots, crosswalks, and bike lanes themselves. Within six months the storefronts were filled, the businesses were doing well, and one landlord reported being able to collect twice the rental fee he has previously been able to charge.  

Marohn then outlined the strategies he suggests for turning unsustainable development models into thriving economic centers that will stand up to the test of time and create a method of placemaking that yield a higher return on public investments:

STOP: Do no more “if you build it they will come” develop and instead focus on small, incremental investments in places that are already productive

TAKE STOCK: What and where is already productive?  Where is the revenue stream coming from?  What is the tax base that produces that revenue stream?  What are the tax subsidies that reduce that revenue stream?  What are the debts that impact revenue?

START TRIAGE: Ease the suffering of “most broke” development that won’t make it and isn’t sustainable and move on to treat and improve the already productive “somewhat broke” that can be sustained, saving the “least broke” development for last.

COMMIT TO ALWAYS ADDING VALUE: Adding value with placemaking strategies encourages the kind of growth that produces positive revenue streams that can be sustained, without debt.

REORIENT SYSTEMS & APPROACH TO GROWTH: Develop a capital improvements plan that takes a hard look at the scale of infrastructure inventory, maintenance obligations, when that maintenance will come due, what that maintenance will cost, and what funding sources they rely on, to create a realistic “balance sheet” of the public’s future obligations.

The “Curbside Chat” chat companion booklet is available online, and is absolutely a must-read.  As is the information, statistics, websites, and strategies for more productive growth and placemaking preservation approaches available on the strongtowns.org website.  You can also view Marohn’s presentation schedule, as well as sign up to schedule a “Curbside Chat” presentation in your town.

 

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THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Why have we not been implementing growth based on ROI (Return on Investment)?

How can we get our cities and towns to start thinking about growth in terms of ROI (Return on Investment)?

What kinds of inexpensive changes and improvements can be made to our neighborhoods and downtowns to add value?

What “high amenity” areas offer the potential for an increased level of public investment and engagement?

How can we add value to those “high amenity” areas?

What are incremental strategies that can add value to existing development in cities and towns?

How can we articulate the ways that historic preservation continues to that value?

How can we communicate that to our towns and cities?

How does creating a sense of place with historic preservation contribute to the placemaking principles that Strong Towns advocates?

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Historic Preservation in Progress is a series of our posts where we show you how historic preservation happens, as it’s happening.

Historic Preservation in Progress

The Wilmington Public Library

Historic Preservation in Progress

The Wilmington Library was built in 1922 and has remained a landmark on Rodney Square for ninety years.  Especially in recent years, due to heavy use by the public and the changing role of libraries in an urban environment, there has been an increasingly evident need for expensive repairs.

After extensive study, the Board of Managers determined that the best course of action was to undertake a substantial renovation to restore the Library to its original classic beauty.  As importantly, the “redesign” of the facility would also be the catalyst for the Library to modify, expand and effectively market its collections and exciting new services and programs to better accommodate the Library’s diverse constituencies.

Historic Restorations will be restoring three pairs of doors on the project, including the massive exterior pocket doors.  Below are videos we shot while removing these HUGE 22′ tall wood entrance doors on the Wilmington Public Library.  The doors will be stored at our shop until we are ready to restore and re-install them for the Library’s restoration project.

 

httpv://youtu.be/Uh00HMP5D0o

httpv://youtu.be/FUx5B98TvWQ

httpv://youtu.be/qD0H5YabrqA

httpv://youtu.be/XwUrYS0W42E

 

The Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County is currently working to complete a comprehensive historic resource survey in Lancaster County.  They are currently working on West Hempfield Township, but have plans to survey the historic resources in all sixty municipalities.

If you are available during the day, have a valid driver’s license and a willingness to use your car, and a digital camera, the Trust could use your help to build these surveys and help protect our architectural history in Lancaster County.  You can call 717.291.5861 for more details.

Below is the Trust’s press release about the project:

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And the Survey Says….

Preservation Trust Enlists Volunteers to Update Historic Resource Survey

by Amy Gaston

In the beginning, 1972 to be exact, the Lancaster County Planning Commission completed a report called “Lancaster’s Heritage”.  Using that report as a springboard, the Historic Preservation Trust conducted a local Historic Resource Survey in the early 1980’s as a pilot project for the state, and in 1983 published a catalogue listing of these results known as “Our Present Past”.  This survey was then partially updated in 1992 but ended when the money ran out.

Why are these surveys so important?

The purpose is to update records on historic resources and provide a basis for new township ordinances that provide for broader protection of historically significant structures.

Now, more than 25 years later, the Historic Preservation Trust is taking on the task again – one municipality at a time.

Members of the Trust’s Preservation Action Committee, led by chairperson Shirlie O’Leary, have an ambitious goal of meeting with leaders of each municipality to discuss three specific priorities: 1) the status of their historic resource surveys; 2) does their local code include a provision for preservation, and if so, is it enforced; and 3) do they have a historic review committee.

Committee members are taking the lead arranging visits and meeting with respective leaders.  As is often the case, the genesis of this project began with a phone call from a concerned citizen named Judy Fry.  Judy has family ties to a late 1700’s historic property in West Hempfield Township called the Gerber-Garber Farmstead which was, and still is, in jeopardy of becoming another lost part of our local heritage.  She contacted the Preservation Trust looking for guidance and help and was referred to the Preservation Action Committee.

As Judy and Shirlie began working with officials at West Hempfield Township on the Gerber-Garber project, it became evident that help was also needed on another important front – updating their own historic resource survey list.  West Hempfield Township only had forty-one of the more than 300 historic resource surveys the Preservation Trust had available for their township.  In order for municipalities to make informed decisions about protecting sites that are historically significant to their communities, it is vital that they have the available resources at their fingertips.

The Preservation Trust plans to help make that happen.

With six committee members and sixty municipalities to cover, partnering with other organizations is vital.  The committee began by contacting the Lancaster County Planning Commission’s Cultural Heritage Division.  (Isn’t it interesting how things have come full circle with the Planning Commission?)  Emma Hamme is working with the committee providing technical assistance, as well as making sure efforts aren’t being duplicated.  The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) was also contacted about providing training to volunteers so the current historic resource survey can be updated and new sites can be added.  To that end, an informational meeitng was held at the West Hempfield Township Building a few months ago.  It was attended by representatives from the Preservation Trust, PHMC and the Bureau for Historic Preservation, Lancaster County Planning Commission, Ron Youtz, West Hempfield Township Manager, and interested volunteers.  (Most were residents of West Hempfield but it was not a requirement.)

Slow and steady is often how preservation initiatives are accomplished.  However, progress is already being made:

* West Hempfield Township received copies of the missing historic resource survey files from the Preservation Trust and they are being entered into their system.  Information for the 41 survey files they already had is being updated including new photos, valid street addresses, parcel ID numbers, and observations on the present condition.

* When survey files for these 41 sites are updated, teams of volunteers will begin doing the same kind of updates for the remaining 300+ sites.  This information will then be entered into local, county and state records so everyone can have access to the same information.

* After current information is updated, volunteers will then survey the area for possible new submissions based on standards set by PHMC’s Bureau for Historic Preservation.

* Preservation Action Committee members are making appointments to meet with the appropriate municipal officials to discuss updating the historic resource survey records in their area.  To date, six municipalities have been contacted.

* Some townships have already updated their historic resource survey information.  Fourteen municipalities will work with Historic York and volunteers to make similar updates before the end of the year.

This is a great opportunity to do hands-on preservation work that will have a lasting effect on Lancaster County’s historic and architectural character.  As you can tell, more volunteers are needed and will be trained.  Minimum requirements include being available during the day, a valid drivers license and willingness to use your car, and a digital camera.  Please contact the Preservation Trust at 291.5861 to sign up!

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For more information about the Cemetery, including how to visit the cemetery and for information on tours, you can visit their website at www.yeakelcemetery.com.

History of Yeakel Cemetery Preservation

Cemetery PreservationThe Yeakel Cemetery is located in Wyndmoor, Springfield Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, about a quarter-mile from the Philadelphia line north of Chestnut Hill. It was once owned by the Mack family of Germantown and used as a place of interment prior to 1753. The Yeakel Cemetery Preservation project aims to preserve this vital history, as well as the final resting place of some of the earliest residents of Chestnut Hill and Springfield Township Montgomery County.

The cemetery is over 200 yards back from Stenton Avenue, in a wooded area, behind a rehabilitation center. About an eighth of an acre in size, the graveyard is surrounded by a stone wall built sometime before 1882. An early photograph shows the wall with a shingle cap. Today it has a cast concrete cap with a date stamp that reads 1927. A pair of wrought iron gates, with small lion’s head medallions, completes the enclosure.

Inside there are 86 head and foot stones, some dating back to the 18th century. The earliest are made of marble and the inscriptions are fading. The later granite stones are still crisp. There are about two dozen common field stones set in the ground upright, as if to suggest a marked grave. The most dominant feature in the graveyard is a polished granite monument placed by the Schwenkfelder Church to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Schwenkfelder migrations. The monument, erected in 1931, is inscribed with the names of the immigrants buried in the Yeakel cemetery as well as the Hood and Pilgrim cemeteries.

According to tombstonCemetery Preservatione research, there are 53 burials in Yeakel cemetery. The earliest inscription is Maria Yeakel who died in 1752 and the latest is Matilda Heydrick who died in 1902. Some other family names that appear on stones are Dowers, Heebner, Neff, Schubert, Schultz, and Schuman. Other burials may include members of the Eshamann, Kriebel, and Mack families, though no tombstones mark their graves.

Tradition states that soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War are buried here. This has not been verified; however a skirmish did take place on this hillside. On Dec. 6, 1777 a detachment of 600 Pennsylvania Militia, commanded by Gen. William Irvine, fought with British troops. According to military records, the fight lasted twenty minutes, General Irvine was wounded and captured, and there were 30 to 40 casualties.

Four patriots are buried in the cemetery. Lists of associators and militia 1777-1781, include the names Christopher Yeakle (under Capt. James Irvine) from Chestnut Hill and Abraham Yeakle, Abraham Heydrick, and Jacob Neff (under Capts. Baltzer Heydrick and Andrew Redheiffer) of Springfield Township.

In 1802 Christopher Yeakle, his sons Christopher Jr. and Abraham, and his son-in-law Abraham Heydrick purchased the burial ground. Additional purchases were made in 1838 and 1847. Every purchase added new names to a growing list of owners. By 1847 seven people had “equal right, title, and interest” to the property. Eventually the land was taken over by the Schwenkfelder Church.

Cemetery PreservationCemetery Preservation

 

Yeakel Cemetery Preservation Today

Today the cemetery is all but forgotten. For many decades the site was nearly inaccessible. The dense overgrowth, a small stream prone to flooding, and the lack of a visible presence, challenge those who wish to visit the place. Many of the older stones are leaning dangerously. Some are broken, missing, or misplaced. Some fragments were moved to other parts of the graveyard making it difficult to determine their original location.

A large tree grows in the middle of the cemetery. It’s roots have shifted some monuments and falling branches continue to threaten many ancient gravestones.

In 2009 the church made an effort to improve access to the site.A long wide path was created by cutting the underbrush and spreading crushed stone. Large pipes were placed in the stream to permit crossing with equipment. However a storm in 2010 flooded the area and washed out the stream crossing.

Large branches came down, damaging the iron gates. The gates have since been removed and are being repaired. The stone wall has also suffered damage. Trees and invasive plants have grown in and around the wall, shifting the stones. In 2011, a 20 foot section of the wall tumbled into the graveyard.

The Coalition for Smart Growth will present a no-cost forum called “New Uses for Old Buildings – Making It Work for You” on Thursday, October 25th, from 6:30-9:00pm, where expert panelists will discuss their experiences reusing existing buildings.

Click here to read more or register: http://www.coalitionforsmartgrowth.org/forum-new-uses.html

 

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