BROOKVILLE –The designation of Brookville’s downtown as an historic district was not an end but a beginning. The trick is to continue on the trail blazed by Historical Brookville, Inc. and others.
Erin Hammerstedt, a field representative for Preservation Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization, visited Brookville last week to see what might be the best way down that path.
“Brookville is a great community with a lot of historic resources. I am excited to look around and hear from everyone about what the important stories are and what some of the challenges they are facing and what ways that we can be certain it is preserved for the future,” said Hammerstedt.
“Preservation Pennsylvania is a preservation non-profit that works statewide,” she said. “My role is to provide free technical assistance; to help people, property and communities preserve the historical places that matter to them. We are here to help recognize the good, understand the challenges and provide some guidance.”
As Hammerstedt toured Brookville she was “surprised to learn that Brookville did not have already have an established preservation ordinance.”
“There seems to be such a good preservation ethic in the community already. It is interesting to me to know that is all voluntary and not mandated,” she said. “The concern is that as people change that we have things in place to carry the preservation forward.
“Right now you have a nationally registered historic district and that is a good honor and distinction and good for your marketing. It does make tax credits available for people who want to rehabilitate properties but it doesn’t regulate things,” she said.
“Regulation does not require hoops for you to jump through. It can be dangerous if the community wants to preserve its historic character,” said Hammerstedt. “The national historic designation is one thing but a local ordinance is another thing. The local ordinance is where the power lies. It is defined by the community and it can be very flexible. You can define what you want and then change your mind.
“Another treatment is rehabilitation which allows for preservation and some change. It is founded in knowing what is important and preserving that. If people come to understand that I believe they will be more comfortable with it,” she said.
“I think we need to work on the legacy for those who come after us,” said Brookville Borough Councilwoman Clarinda Darr who invited Hammerstedt to Brookville.
“It is a thrill to work with PA. Preservation on the projects we are currently work on, like the town square, and future projects. Brookville has been recognized as having one of the best downtowns in the northeast and, hopefully, this will allow us to continue to improve our downtown,” said Gene Hoak of Historic Brookville, Inc.
“We are gathering information today. The next step would be to circle back around and have a public meeting and hear people’s concerns and address some of those concerns,” said Hammerstedt.
“It is very early in the day,” she said.