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Historic Harrisburg celebrates 50 years of historic preservation

  • Scott LaMar

Aired; November 27th, 2023.


Fifty-years-ago, preserving history usually meant protecting historic sites where the big moments in history occurred.

But in the 1970s – a new movement took hold and gained momentum — historic preservation.

It meant preserving or remembering what made a place special – like its buildings, landscapes or objects.

The Historic Harrisburg Association was founded in 1973 to promote historic preservation, urban revitalization, and smart growth.

Historic Harrisburg’s David Morrison November 27, 2023.

Historic Harrisburg’s Executive Director David Morrison was with us on The Spark Monday, who said attitudes toward historic preservation have changed over the past five decades,”I think certainly 50 years ago when the preservation movement was really getting underway nationally and here in Harrisburg, a lot of people saw preservation as sort of an impediment to progress. And as time went on, and partly through the messaging that Historic Harrisburg has done, people have begun to see it as a positive force. And really a lot of the great things that have happened in Harrisburg have been through historic preservation and some of the things that we’ve been encouraging, whether it’s by large developers or projects initiated by the city itself or individual homeowners, all of that has a positive impact.”

Morrison was asked what have been a few of Historic Harrisburg’s most tangible successes,”The Tracy Mansion, which later was Char’s restaurant, Char Magaro, that was slated to be demolished, as well as Shipoke (after the 1972 Agnes flood). Several other front street mansions where were slated for demolition and historic Harrisburg, my predecessors really fought back and won those battles one way or another.”

Morrison pointed to restoration of the Brick Market House at the Broad Street Market that was destroyed by fire earlier this year and possible other uses for William Penn high School as preservation priorities.



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