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 funds support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources of Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and the revitalization of communities. Historic preservation work not only provides communities with an opportunity to preserve important community landmarks and historic structures, but an opportunity to 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 and rebirth. The long answer is that historic preservation keeps intact community character and aesthetics while building and, in many cases, restoring, community pride and a sense of place and belonging, elements vitally important in a rapidly changing culture, society, and economy. It serves as a tool for understanding human culture. Moreover, preservation connects people to their past. Preservation places Pennsylvania’s history within the broader context of American history. Finally, preservation enhances quality of life through which all citizens can work, enjoy leisure activities, find respite, learn, raise families, visit, and retire.
The Keystone program 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 Recreation, Park and Conservation fund supports the preservation and restoration of PHMC operated historic sites and museums. With Keystone funding, the 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”
“We have raised $7 million in 17 years to build trails. In 2006, our trail users report showed that we received $4 million back in one year, which is in an excellent return on our investment!”