Preservation50 — Our Legacy, Our Future (Part III)

With decades of rich history and continuous development, the Borough of Wilkinsburg exemplifies strong community roots, values, and culture.

Continuing in the year-long celebration of Preservation50’s “Our Legacy, Our Future,” which commemorates the landmark legislation known as the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, GAI Consultants (GAI) is excited to showcase Part III of our historic preservation series: The Borough of Wilkinsburg.

The Borough of Wilkinsburg—A Small, Historic Community
Dating back to the 1800s, the Borough of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania has been an area that has adapted to the times and transitioned itself appropriately. Taking start as an early country estate, the Borough grew into a commercial center and shopping attraction during the Industrial Age. As the Pennsylvania Railroad made its way through the Borough, so did the increase in jobs, tourism, and overall appreciation for the small community right outside the bustling city of Pittsburgh. Although business would eventually decline and the need for jobs would rise, residents continued their attempts at revitalization.

Phase I: Wilkinsburg Historic District Survey and Inventory Project
As the Borough of Wilkinsburg continues to rebuild today, residents stay united, and the architectural components still stand tall. Under the leadership of Ben Resnick, MA, MBA, RPA, Assistant Vice President/Senior Director, GAI’s Cultural Resources Group conducted an architectural and historical resources survey for Phase I of the Wilkinsburg Historic District Survey and Inventory Project. Surveying commercial buildings, churches, and schools, our team documented a remarkable 177 architectural and historical resources throughout the Borough.

Historic and Distinctive Architectural Styles
While in the field, Senior Architectural Historian Elizabeth Williams and Architectural Historian Amanda Stander, AICP noted excellent examples of late‑nineteenth to mid‑twentieth century commercial development styles, including Romantic Revival, Romanesque and Classical Revival, Beaux Arts, and Art Moderne movements. These styles showcase the Borough’s profound history and distinctive characteristics. In addition to field surveys, Elizabeth and Amanda also authored historic context documentation and completed project forms. Project Architectural Historian Tegan Baiocchi, MS coordinated with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) and reviewed forms and additional project documentation.

Phase II: National Register of Historic Places Nomination
As the Wilkinsburg Historic District Survey and Inventory Project moves into Phase II—the formal National Register of Historic Places nomination—the PA SHPO has requested a site visit to ensure that the Borough has retained its architectural integrity and to establish final district boundaries. If this nomination is accepted, the Borough of Wilkinsburg will be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, where its historical significance will serve as a reminder of the successes this Borough has brought to Allegheny County.

Scuoteguazza-Eric-EMPhotoFor more information on the Wilkinsburg Historic District Survey and Inventory Project or National Register of Historical Places listings, contact Eric Scuoteguazza, MA, MBA, RPA, Group Manager, Cultural Resources, at 412.476.2000 or Ben Resnick, MA, MBA, RPA at 412.476.2000. To learn more about the NHPA of 1966, which established the legal framework and incentives to identify and preserve our nation’s cultural and historic heritage, visit Preservation50.org. Stay tuned for the fourth installment in GAI’s Preservation50 Series!

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For related information, check out the following articles:

Preservation50 — Our Legacy, Our Future (Part II)—The Oil Region Alliance’s Natural Gas Traveling Exhibit | June 16, 2016

Preservation50 — Our Legacy, Our Future (Part I)—Lake Helen Historic Preservation Planning | May 19, 2016

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