'Demodelphia' Hiring More Preservationists

To protect more historic properties from rampant demolition, Philadelphia is staffing up its historic preservation department.

December 20, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

William Penn

FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock

The city of Philadelphia is hiring two full-time preservationists to aid in the effort to protect the city's historic buildings, reports Aaron Moselle. Tasked with protecting the heritage of one of the country's oldest cities, the Philadelphia Historical Commission has struggled to keep up with the demand for new certifications, a process that sometimes doesn't take place quickly enough to protect buildings from demolition. "Advocates hope the extra staff power will help move more properties out of harm’s way by reducing the time it takes for the commission to review a growing list of nominations for historic buildings, as well as proposals for new historic districts."

With real estate values rising and developers eager to demolish old buildings, the city's historic preservation activists want to see more landmark buildings and districts protected by the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. To date, Philadelphia has around 12,000 properties and 30 districts designated as historic. 

In October, the Historical Commission came under scrutiny when an employee resigned, accusing Mayor Jim Kenney of pressuring him to vote against the certification of a site historically important to the LGBTQ and Black community. According to a city spokesperson, "the Commission will be looking for candidates who can help deepen its outreach into underserved communities" to recognize more sites important to Black Philadelphians and other communities underrepresented in the historic register.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021 in WHYY

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