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Philadelphia Historical Commission

[Record group 82-100]
Alternative/Former Names
Advisory Commission on Historic Buildings

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Agency Function
The Commission has the power to designate as historic those buildings, structures, sites and objects which the Commission determines to possess historic value. It also may delineate the boundaries of and designate as historic those districts which the Commission determines; prepare and maintain a comprehensive inventory of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts; review and act upon all applications for permits to alter or demolished historic buildings, structures, sites or objects, and/or buildings, etc. within an historic district; make recommendations to the Mayor and City Council concerning the use of grants, gifts and budgetary appropriations to promote the preservation of buildings, structures, sites, objects or districts of historic importance to the City; make recommendations regarding the purchase of any building of historic importance or a facade easement upon such a building; and increase public awareness of the value of architectural, cultural and historic preservation.

The Commission also reviews for environmental clearance various sites affected by housing and economic development programs. In addition, it reviews various highway/streets projects of the Department of Streets; provides concession agreement oversight for the Eastern State Penitentiary; and guidance to developers in the utilization of the Federal Tax incentives for historic preservation, and in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and the Pennsylvania History Code.

Agency History
The Philadelphia Historical Commission was established under an ordinance approved on 7 December 1955. Originally entitled the Advisory Commission on Historic Buildings, the name of the commission was changed to the Philadelphia Historical Commission under an ordinance approved on 29 June 1957. The Commission was appointed by the Mayor and consisted of the Director of Finance, or his designee, the Commissioner of Public Property, and five persons learned in the historic traditions of the City and interested in the preservation of historic buildings in the City. The Commission was made an advisory commission to the Department of Public Property on the same footing as the Art Commission. On 31 December 1984, Mayor W. Wilson Goode approved an ordinance, taking effect on 1 April 1985, which reorganized the Commission, expanded its membership and powers, and placed the Commission as an independent Commission within the Mayor's Office. For financial purposes, the Commission maintains ties with the Department of Public Property. The membership of the Commission has been enlarged to include the President of City Council or his designee, the Director of Commerce, the Commissioners of Public Property and Licenses and Inspections, the Chairman of the City Planning Commission or his designee, the Director of Housing or his designee, and eight other persons learned in the historic traditions of the City, who were appointed by the Mayor. Six of these positions are reserved respectively for an architect experienced in the field of historic preservation, an historian, an architectural historian, a real estate developer, a representative of a Community Development Corporation, and a representative of a community organization.

Archival Records
82-100.1 Annual Reports (1956-1968, 1970-1977)

82-100.2 Files (1955-1974)

82-100.3 Reports and Publications (1960-1980)

82-100.4 Blueprints, Drawings & Plans (1946-1968)

82-100.5 Scrapbook (1950)

82-100.6 Photographic negatives (1956-ca. 1985)

82-100.7 Pulaski Highway Review (1973-1976)

82-100.8 Model Cities Survey (1967-1970)

82-100.9 Eastern State Penitentiary Studies (1989)

Current Records

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Last updated on April 24, 2000