The Bureau for Historic Preservation is part of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and serves as the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The PHMC is the Commonwealth's official history agency, and the Executive Director is designated as the State Historic Preservation Officer. Oversight of the PHMC is provided by a board of Commissioners appointed by the Governor.
The bureau administers the state's historic preservation program as authorized by the Constitution of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania History Code, the Pennsylvania Historic District Act, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and various other federal laws and regulations.
Our work is guided by the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board and the Commonwealth's historic preservation plan, Building Better Communities: The Preservation of Place in Pennsylvania.
The bureau's core responsibilities include:
- To undertake the duties of Pennsylvania's State Historic Preservation Office;
- Consult with state and federal agencies and their applicants in accordance with the State History Code and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (36 CFR Part 800);
- Establish and maintain Historic Preservation Review Board;
- Prepare statewide historic preservation plan every five years;
- Administer the National Register of Historic Places program;
- Populate the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System;
- Administer the Certified Local Government and Local Historic District Act Programs;
- Review and assist property owners applying for the State and/or Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits;
- Administer the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program;
- Administer the Historical Marker program;
- Provide technical assistance and training to the public, local governments, state and federal agencies, historical societies and other professional organizations throughout the Commonwealth.
Archive and Research Room of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office
The collections of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) date from the early 1900s when the first archaeological sites were recorded and through the present day. The collection includes the Pennsylvania Archaeological Site Survey, archaeological and historic survey reports, and historic resource files. The collection also includes project review files, tax credit project files, Certified Local Government agreements, Historic District Act certifications, and covenants.
The collections are open to the public and can be accessed by appointment:
Tuesday through Friday 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Closed on weekends, Mondays, and all state holidays.
Please note that 3:00 PM is the latest time appointments will be scheduled for the day. The SHPO Archive and Research Room may also be closed during different periods throughout the year for maintenance.
Scheduling an Appointment
Due to Research Room space restrictions, access is limited to two parties at a time, with no more than two in a party; therefore, please call ahead to reserve a space in the Research Room. Reservations can be made by calling a Research Room Attendant at 717-783-8947. No one will be admitted to conduct research without an appointment.
To make the most efficient use of your time, please consult the Cultural Resources Geographic Information System (CRGIS) in advance and complete the File Request Form (PDF).
If you will be requesting 10 or more files, the Research Room Attendant will require that you complete and email the Request Form in advance of your scheduled appointment. Requested files will be limited to ten (10) at any one time. Additional files will be provided in increments of ten (10).
Location and Arrival
The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office is located in the Commonwealth Keystone Building, 400 North Street, 2nd Floor, in Harrisburg. Limited metered street parking is available on Forster Street. A public parking garage is located three blocks away at the intersection of Forster and N 7th Streets. Enter the Commonwealth Keystone Building from Forster Street. Access elevators from the plaza level and take to the 2nd Floor. All researchers will need to sign in and obtain a visitor badge from the 2nd Floor security officer. An attendant will escort all researchers to and from the 2nd Floor lobby to the Research Room.
The Research Room does not have a color copier available. A two-sided copy will be counted as two copies.
Payment for copies in the appropriate amount must be made by check or money order payable to the COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA. Prices are subject to change without notice. All copy orders must be paid on the day of your visit prior to departure.
Personal Electronic Equipment Policy
The use of film, digital still-image cameras, laptops, tablets, and cell phones is permitted in the Research Room at no additional cost.
Users of the SHPO Archive and Research Room will be required to review in its entirety and sign the User Policy concerning the use of the SHPO's records and agree to abide by those rules.