What is Historic
Why is Historic Preservation Important?
Historic preservation is the practice of protecting and preserving sites,
structures or districts which reflect elements of local or national cultural,
social, economic, political, archaeological or architectural history. Preservation
has many diverse purposes and rewards, including the strengthening of local
economies, stabilization of property values, the fostering of civic beauty
and community pride, and the appreciation of local and national history.
Historic preservation as a public purpose that advances the education and
welfare of citizens, while providing economic and aesthetic benefits as
Historic resources are defined as districts, sites, structures, objects
or buildings that are greater than seventy-five years in age, and are significant
in local, state or national history, architecture, archeology, engineering,
or culture. History encompasses all cultures, economic classes, and social,
political and private activities that form the background to the present.
What is a historic site or structure?
Historic resources fall into five categories or types: buildings, sites,
structures, objects, or districts. A building is a construction created
to shelter human activity, while structures are functional constructions
usually created for purposes other than creating human shelter. A site is
the location of a significant event, occupation or activity, while an object
is primarily an artistic creation such as a sculpture, monument or statuary.
A district is a collection of any or all of the above which is united historically
What are the benefits of historic preservation?
The benefits of historic preservation come in many forms. The prime benifit
of historical restoration is always education. It also includes both public
and private benefits. Historic preservation safeguards a community's heritage,
making it available to future generations for civic enjoyment and educational
activities. Preservation stabilizes property values and strengthens local
economies. In addition, the conservation and maintenance of historic resources
and scenic areas fosters civic beauty and bolsters community pride. Finally,
historic preservation has been successfully employed to improve business
opportunities in many locales.
In addition to these public benefits, there are also advantages that accrue
to individual property owners when historic resources are preserved. In
addition to stabilizing property values, historic designation offers financial
incentives to owners who rehabilitate their historic property. Some states
offers an income tax credit of 25 percent of the costs of approved restoration
work on a designated historic property or a propertylocated within a designated
historic district. The Federal government offers the same incentive, at
a rate of 20 percent, but the credit only applies to income-producing residential,
commercial, and industrial properties. (For more information call Preservation
Assistance Division, National Park Service, 202-343-9573)
Finally, there are some public and private grant and loan funds targeted
to designated historic properties for their stabilization and restoration.
Because of the changes in the federal laws in recent years the bulk of the
federal and corporate-foundation money for historical restoration is only
aside for structures that are on historical registers and are operated with
non-profit 501 (c) foundations.
A nicely preserved mill on the outside but the interior original configuration
of the mill's machinery
bares little resemblance to the way it was when it was an actual operating
mill. Molinologists, millwrights, mill consultants and restoration professionals
claim that there are only "nine" mills in the United States that
retain their original configuration.
In Eugene E. Eby's Book, "Perry County Grist Mills," in the
section on Shoaff's Mill, now in the Little Buffalo State Park. In mentions
about when the mill purchased its new water wheel, "Ellis Shoaff operated
the mill to full capacity, grinding flour, buckwheat flour, corn meal and
feed for livestock. Improvements were needed at the mill which Ellis immediately
procceeded to do. With the addition of more machinery, it became apparent
more power was necessary to operate the mill. The old 27 foot wooden water
wheel was in need of much repair. Rather than make the necessary repairs,
in 1906 Ellis purchased a 32 foot steel wheel from the Fitz Water Wheel
Company, Hanover, Pennsylvania.
The original 27 foot wooden water wheel was enclosed with in the one side
of the building. The hurst frame next to the water wheel has a great spur
gear system that operated two pairs of millstones. When the 32 foot steel
I-X-L Water Wheel was installed the section of the building that housed
the wooden water wheel saw sliced off and the Fitz wheel installed in its
place. Perhaps at this time the interior layout of the machinery was changed.
When the mill ceased being an operating mill then perhaps much of the interior
machinery was removed. Because of that, what is in the mill today is only
a token of what was in the mill originally when it was an actual operating
mill. To make a mill into a museum, often you have to give up some of the
crowed (rain forest type jungle) space that was fulled with bins, moving
belts, shafts, machinery, the storage of the mill's product waiting shipment,
storage of packaging containers, and a area work for maintenance of the
One of the few mills that retains its original configuration is McConnell's
Mill, in McConnell's Mill State Park, near Portersville, Pennsylvania. Another
is the Cedar Creek Grist Mill in the State of Washington, and Mascot Rollers
Mills (also called Resseler's Mill), Newport & Stumpton Roads at Mill
Creek, Ronks vicinity, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Who can e-mail me
with other possibilities for the other six!
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Copyright 2000 by T. R. Hazen