Submitted by ELAINE M. SAVOLDI, Secretary, Beaver Historical & Architectural Review Board; Realtor, Associate Broker Town Center Associations, LLC
“People don’t flock to see modern buildings—they flock to see historic buildings and streets. Historic buildings attract retail in downtown areas”
—Arthur Zeigler, President, Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
If you own a home in Beaver, you enjoy wonderful benefits—the beautiful parks, the river views, the tree- canopied streets, and the thriving downtown with its array of restaurants and gift shops, all a short walk or bike ride away.
However, you may not have realized that the architecture you view as you stroll down your block, including your own home, is a historic asset, recognized by the National Park Service as an official National Historic District. Beaver has the unique distinction of being one of the largest contiguous intact neighborhood historic districts in the country, with nearly 1,500 contributing properties! You may also be delightfully surprised to know that living in a well-preserved National Historic District offers benefits beyond your daily walk in the park.
Study after study has shown that the economic benefit of preserving historic neighborhoods is significant, and the data for such is compelling. In Pittsburgh, for example, “the square foot value for single-family homes in a National Register Historic District increased 45% between 2001 and 2014. Every city historic district saw a value increase greater than the average of the rest of the city” (Historic Preservation: Part of the DNA of Pittsburgh Economics, 2015).
Deborah Ann Ford wrote in the Journal of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, “Historic Districts are a positive influence on property values. Homebuyers are willing to pay for the assurance that the neighborhood surrounding their houses will remain unchanged over time.”
A 2007 study found that property values increase by 5% to 35% more in historic districts than in areas with similar homes and that historic districts are often more protected from fluctuations in the housing market (Benefits of Residential Historic District Designation for Property Owners, Jonathan Mabry, Ph.D).
Below are some highlights of the report summary, which studied various regions of the U.S.:
• Historic district designation typically increases residential property values by 5-35% per decade over the values in similar, undesignated neighborhoods.
• Both nationally designated historic districts and locally designated historic districts out-perform similar, undesignated neighborhoods, but districts that carry both local and national designation experience the highest relative increases in property values.
• The values of newer properties within designated historic districts increase along with those of older properties.
• Historic district designation leads to increased levels of homeownership and longer, stable residences by both homeowners and renters.
• Designated historic districts tend to have higher rates of participation in neighborhood associations and improvement projects, which protects shared spaces from decline.
A November 2015 article by Redfin, a national brokerage company, cited that historic districts foster a strong sense of community. Residents care about their homes and their neighborhood. In Beaver, this care is evidenced by the many groups that celebrate, protect, and enhance Beaver’s historic district, such as the Beaver Area Heritage Foundation, the Tusca Ridge Garden Club, Penn State – Beaver Master Gardeners, Beaver Borough’s Shade Tree
Committee, and Beaver’s Historical and Architectural Review Board.
Apparently, residents agree with keeping Beaver’s historic architectural heritage intact: a 2015 public survey of Beaver residents showed that 88% of residents value or highly value the historic district and historic preservation activities from the 2015 Beaver Comprehensive Plan Update.
Beaver Area Heritage Foundation Offering FREE Commemorative Home Display Medallions to Historic District Area Property Owners
The Beaver Area Heritage Foundation in conjunction with the Beaver’s Historical and Architectural Review Board (HARB), announced it is promoting formal recognition of contributing prop-erties in Beaver (and Bridgewater) National Historic Districts. To celebrate and memorialize the importance of national designation, BAHF is making available complimentary “porch badges” to eligible property owners. Made of a heavy gauge anodized aluminum, these attractive 4.5” x 3” sturdy oval insignias are available upon request while supplies last. If your property was built before 1940 and has essentially retained its original architectural look, there is a high probability you qualify for the offer. To find out more information, click here.