The City of Scranton has a long and storied history, reflected by its remarkably intact collection of historic buildings. Scranton’s history has a living presence within a modern city.
Community members and municipal officials continue to promote preservation initiatives within Scranton, including the establishment of regulated historic districts in which exterior work may be subject to review. The City has one local historic district, governed by ordinances and overseen by the Historical Architectural Review Board.
The principle of design review and adherence to preservation standards applied within the historic districts do not prohibit appropriate changes to buildings. Recognizing that Scranton’s buildings form a tightly woven urban fabric, the goal of the historic districts is to protect the integrity of individual buildings as well as the relationship of those buildings to each other and to the wider setting, ensuring that the City’s architecture will continue to occupy a meaningful context.
Benefits of Historic Preservation
In an age when so many people want to get ride of the “old” and replace it with the new, it can be hard to make a strong case for pursuing historic preservation projects. Many are quick to declare that “newer is better,” when in fact there are a number of benefits which can be achieved through proper historic preservation efforts.
When people have a sense of where they come from, they often will have an increased sense of pride. When they have tangible reminders of their past in the form of historic buildings, people will develop a similar sense of pride in their community. This has been seen time and again when places of great importance have been threatened. From the fight to save George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon to the outrage felt when New York City’s Pennsylvania Station was destroyed in 1965, communities have demonstrated their desire to hold on to those buildings which have significance.
By working to preserve these buildings, communities are able to foster a sense of pride in themselves. This helps in the creation of a local identity which people want to be a part of. This in turn often can attract new business and new residents. People are more likely to invest in and move to a community which is vibrant and active. Historic Preservation can help be a catalyst for establishing this kind of feel
Historic preservation plays a vital role in communities across Pennsylvania, providing a multitude of benefits for the Commonwealth and its residents. One category of benefits associated with historic preservation activities is economic benefits. Historic preservation efforts can have significant positive impacts on property values, downtown revitalization, tourism, job creation, and tax revenue generation.
Many different studies have showed that Historic Preservation has the potential to have major economic benefits for the community. These benefits can include:
- The creation of local historic districts stabilizes, and often increases, residential and commercial property values;
- Historic districts may also act as “brand labels” that guarantee, or at least convey an image of, neighborhood quality, which increases resale values;
- Historic building rehabilitation, which is more labor intensive and requires greater specialization and higher skills levels, creates more jobs and results in more local business than does new construction;
- Tourists drawn by a community’s (or region’s) historic character typically stay longer and spend more during their visit than other tourists;
- Use of a city or town’s existing, historic building stock can support growth management policies by increasing the availability of centrally located housing;
- Rehabilitation often costs less than new construction ;
- The availability of federal, state, and/or local tax credit programs can often aid individuals purchase and rehab buildings they otherwise would not be able to afford;
- National Trust Main Programs have proven to be very successful at helping downtown areas revitalize, using historic preservation as a core.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission commissioned a report detailing specific economic benefits in Pennsylvania. The project was support by a Preserve America grant from the National Park Service and administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Historic Preservation has also been recognized as having very clear ecological benefits. For example,
instead of having to use large equipment to demolish a building, preservation allows that building to remain in use. This also saves on the environmental costs of having to produce new building materials for new construction. And with the proper maintenance and preparation, historic buildings can be made to be just as energy efficient as newer buildings!
Efforts to restore buildings can also help to limit other environmental factors, such as suburban sprawl, traffic, and environmental degradation. Your first reaction to wanting to be eco-friendly may be to invest in many new tools and materials — but the answer may already exist! You can restore a structure that has value, history, and meaning without the need for demolition or investing in tons of new materials. With historic restoration or preservation, you can return a structure to its original look while also making it more energy efficient and increasing its value.
Historic Districts and Landmarks Map
Additional Historic Preservation Resources:
City of Scranton Historic Preservation Ordinance
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Cultural Resource Database
National Park Service Technical Briefs
National Register Bulletin 16A: Guidelines for Completing National Register of Historic Places