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State Historic Preservation Office Recognizes Preservation Efforts Across the State with Community Initiative Awards


Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) recently announced its Community Initiative Awards for 2023. The four recipients and their projects showcase a variety of preservation success stories, demonstrating the importance of preserving those places at the heart of Pennsylvania’s communities that embody its past and present stories.


The Community Initiative Awards recognize the hard work and dedication of outstanding organizations, municipalities, agencies, and individuals whose work embodies the theme of Pennsylvania’s statewide historic preservation plan. The plan provides a framework of activities and goals that will help Pennsylvanians better understand historic preservation and its benefits, appreciate their shared histories as told through historic places, and balance history and economic development to manage change within their communities.


There is no formal application for the Community Initiative Awards. PA SHPO, a bureau within the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, selects candidates for consideration by reviewing success stories submitted via PA-SHAREtracking use of the #PreservationHappensHere hashtag, monitoring social media and traditional press coverage, and reporting on active projects that utilize federal or state programs.


This year’s winners are:


Preservation of Slate Hill Cemetery, Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County


The Lower Makefield Township Historical Commission (LMTHC) is recognized for its efforts to preserve the community’s Slate Hill Cemetery and engage residents in their shared history. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Slate Hill is an intact Colonial-era graveyard that was established in 1690 as a Quaker burial ground but was later expanded to include the township’s first public cemetery. It contains about 580 burials, including six veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops who served in the Civil War.


In 2023 LMTHC began an ambitious project to document, preserve, and promote the history of the cemetery. Over the course of the year, their work included a report on the condition of the cemetery, an updated site survey, a preservation master plan, community clean up days and a marker cleaning program, a partnership with local police for use of ground penetrating radar for investigating underground, fundraising events, and a new education campaign to generate interest in the cemetery and the history of the Lower Makefield community.


Rehabilitation of the Historic 1849 Train Station, Borough of Nicholson, Wyoming County


The 1849 Nicholson Railroad Station was built by the Liggett’s Gap Railroad, one of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s predecessors. It was the first station built on the Scranton to Great Bend line and was an important community gathering place. In addition to passenger and freight rail traffic, it also housed the local post office and the first telephone service in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1878. Changes in rail service and the growth of auto travel in the early and mid-20th century precipitated the station’s closing in 1971.


The Nicholson Heritage Association (NHA) purchased the station in June 2012, with donations from individuals, businesses, and a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant. Over the next several years, NHA commissioned a feasibility study to help guide future decisions about the station, hosted public meetings with the community, and sought funding to support their vision to rehabilitate the station into the area’s new visitor center. NHA held the grand opening ceremony for the new Nicholson Tourism Center at the station in July 2023.


A New Life Historic Fallon Hotel, Borough of Lock Haven, Clinton County


The Fallon was built in 1854 for the queen of Spain when she made investments in the area. It was considered a luxury hotel with celebrity guests like Mark Twain and P.T. Barnum. Over its long history, it operated as a hotel, bar, and boarding house but eventually fell into disrepair and stood vacant. The prominent building in downtown Lock Haven is part of the Lock Haven Historic District.


The current owners of the Fallon, the Chisolm family, have been working to stabilize and rehabilitate the community landmark since 2018. Their goal is to balance the building’s history and community nostalgia with bringing new life and art into the space. Work to return the hotel to service included leaky roof repairs, removing moldy flooring, renovating the lobby and bar, and updating rooms to bring the building up to code. In 2023 the hotel’s restaurant reopened as did guest rooms on the first and second floors, returning it to its original role in welcoming the community and visitors to Lock Haven.


Revitalization of the Titusville Iron Works, City of Titusville, Crawford County


The Titusville Iron Works traces its roots to the Titusville Manufacturing Co., the first foundry and machine shop exclusively serving the oil industry, founded in 1860. Local businessmen purchased the company in 1895, renamed it the Titusville Iron Works, diversified its product line, and expanded it with new buildings and acreage. Over the first few decades of the 20th century, the iron works evolved as owners consolidated other companies and business interests in the facility. In the early 1940s the federal government invested in new machinery and buildings for the iron works to support the war effort. By 1964 the plant was closed and the property and buildings subdivided.


In 2017 Titusville Iron Works LLC purchased the 1895 machine shop. Since then, Bob Joyce and his team at the Windfall Rod Shop have completed a multiyear renovation project to turn this historic industrial property into a multipurpose community gathering spot with a bar, restaurant, museum, and event venue, preserving a part of Titusville’s history and spurring revitalization of the city’s downtown.


For more information or to see the list of past award winners, visit the Community Initiative Awards webpage.


PA SHPO coordinates state and federal historic preservation programs including the National Register of Historic Places, state and federal tax credits, and review of state and federal projects for their impact on historic resources. For news on the PA SHPO’s preservation efforts subscribe to the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation blog.


The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online or following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or LinkedIn.


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