Historic Preservation Declares Philadelphia ‘National Treasure’

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Research by the National Trust for Historic Preservation says Philadelphia is losing more of what it calls “irreplaceable historic” buildings than similar cities.

Stakeholders held a meeting on Thursday to announce how they can be protected and saved.

National Trust President Stephanie Meeks says her organization is declaring the city of Philadelphia “a National Treasure.”

“We think this city and its neighborhoods have national significance, and they are very worthy of protection. Many of your historic neighborhoods are threatened by demolition pressure or incompatible new construction. This can erode quality of life, and erase what makes these places special,” Meeks said.

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Preservationists cite recent examples like the Art Deco Boyd Theatre near 19th and Chestnut Streets and, most recently, some late 18th and early 19th century storefronts along Jewelers Row on Sansom Street.

Mayor Kenney recently created a Historic Preservation Task Force comprised of preservationists, academics, city officials, and developers to catalog the city’s historic assets and encourage their reuse, rather than demolition.

“Development is a good thing. At the same time, it can create pressure on our historic resources. So, the question facing us now is, how do we incentivize adaptive reuse so that it is the right choice financially, as well as historically,” said Kenney.

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One of the success stories is the resurrection of the Ortlieb Brewing Company building along American Street, in Northern Liberties, where architect Stephen Kieran’s 130 workers ply their trade in a modernist building, with old bones.

“This old industrial plant gives us the inspiring light-filled space we need to design, research, prototype, and build world class architecture and urbanism. It is a magnet for development all around us. We’re pleased to preserve not only the building, but the tradition of living and working in a thriving neighborhood,” said Kieran.

Back in the day, Ortlieb’s filled and shipped a million bottles of beer a day. When the building was purchased five years ago, Kieran says, it was “abandoned and endangered.”

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