Many historic buildings, districts, and communities in Pennsylvania have been preserved through the efforts of local and state leadership and preservation partners. Some remain endangered. Unfortunately, others have been lost either because of the ravages of nature, new development, or neglect. The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund is a vital tool for preserving the Commonwealth’s heritage. Keystone Fund grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote, and protect the historic and archaeological resources of Pennsylvania for the benefit of the public and the revitalization of communities. In addition to providing communities with opportunities to preserve important community landmarks and historic structures, historic preservation helps them revitalize downtowns, capitalize on tourism, and promote community development.
Why historic preservation? The short answer is that preservation creates new jobs, stimulates private and public investment and venture capital, enhances tax revenue, and is a powerful tool for economic development, tourism, education, and community vitality. The long answer is that historic preservation keeps community character and aesthetics intact while building and–in many cases–restoring community pride and a sense of belonging, elements that are vitally important in a rapidly changing society. It serves as a tool for understanding human culture and connects people to their past, placing Pennsylvania’s history within the broader context of American history. Finally, preservation enhances quality of life so that all citizens can work, enjoy leisure activities, learn, raise families, travel, and retire.
The Keystone Fund is one of the few dedicated funding sources that support preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation projects of National Register-listed or eligible properties. Grants awarded to local governments, non-profits, and public institutions showcase the diverse nature of historic properties in the Commonwealth, including covered bridges, historic houses, county courthouses, theaters, and museums. Since 1993, Keystone Historic Preservation Grants have funded over 500 “bricks and mortar” projects in 65 counties. $29.5 million in Keystone allocations have leveraged an additional $70.4 million of both private and public dollars. Grantees ensure they will continue maintenance and preservation of the historic building and public accessibility for at least 15 years after the grant is received.
In addition to providing public grants, a portion of the Keystone Fund supports the preservation and restoration of historic sites and museums operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. With Keystone funding, PHMC acts a trustee of the Commonwealth’s historic resources and ensures citizens have access to its history.
*Some information for this section is paraphrased and quoted from Honoring the Past, Planning for the Future: Pennsylvania’s Historic Preservation Plan 2006-2011