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Highland Park granted federal historic status

Pittsburgh Post GazetteWednesday, September 12, 2007
By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The National Register of Historic Places has granted Highland Park federal historic status, a designation with few protections but much prestige among preservationists.

Mike Eversmeyer, an architect and former head of the city’s Historic Review Commission, completed the nomination from research begun almost a decade ago by the neighborhood’s community development corporation, or CDC.

The work included surveying and documenting the histories of more than 1,300 structures.

“We based our nomination on the significance of the architecture, a coherent concentration of buildings from the late 19th to early 20th century,” Mr. Eversmeyer said. “It was a model street car suburb.”

The parameters of the historic district run roughly from Stanton Avenue on the south to the park on the east and north, with Chislett Street serving as the western boundary. It cuts slightly into East Liberty at one point because the buildings between Stanton and Hays and Negley Avenue and Chislett were of the same signature as Highland Park’s, said Mr. Eversmeyer.

“I think it’s something for Pittsburgh to be very proud of,” said Arthur Ziegler, president of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. “It gives national status to the neighborhood, and it will protect it from federally funded programs that could harm historic buildings.” Any such programs would be reviewed by state preservation officials, he said.

He said Highland Park’s housing collage ranges from late Victorian to early Modern, covering Edwardian, Tudor Revival and Arts and Crafts.

“The neighborhood has a feeling of architectural continuity,” he said.

Amy Enrico, owner of Tazza d’Oro coffeehouse on Highland Avenue, said, “I’m grateful for all the time they have put in. This is an incentive for all of us to preserve the architecture and stories of all the neighbors who came before us.”

The national designation does not prohibit individual owners from altering properties or require them to restore them, but it does make the district eligible for preservation funding and tax credits. City-designated historic districts are more restricted, with oversight from the planning department and Historic Review Commission on any proposed change to properties.

Several areas of Pittsburgh have federal and city historic status. One does not preclude the other, and the two do not always follow the same boundaries, said Mr. Ziegler.

“No one has spoken about interest in going for city historic designation” for Highland Park, Mr. Eversmeyer said.

David Hance, president of the Highland Park CDC. credited then-city councilman, now state Sen. Jim Ferlo for funding the research. The designation, he said, “tells us that what we see everyday where we live is notable, and it’s one more tool we have” to encourage quality development.

First published on September 12, 2007 at 2:52 am

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