Projects and Services
National Register Nominations
Historic Resource Surveys
Historic Structure Reports
Historic Resource Impact Studies
Municipal Planning Services
Transportation / Section 106
Training & Presentations
Other Products and Services
Wise Preservation Planning LLC
1480 Hilltop Road
Chester Springs PA 19425
Phone (484) 202-8187
Preservation Planning LLC is a full-service historic preservation
planning firm. We research, document, analyze and ultimately help protect
historic resources and our cultural landscape. Our firm serves a variety of clients,
including municipalities, engineers, architects, historical societies, and owners of
The firm was founded in 1997 by Robert J. Wise Jr., who has 20 years
of experience in the historic preservation field. He is assisted by Seth Hinshaw,
Senior Planner, who has been with the firm since 2001. Both planners have M.S.
degrees in historic preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and
exceed the 36 CFR 61 Professional Qualification Standards established by the
National Park Service for architectural historians.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC produces site interpretation recommendations
for owners of sites of historic interest. Interpretation projects include an
examination of the significance of the site, an evaluation of the surviving
historic fabric, and providing avenues for conveying how the surviving historic
fabric reflect the site's significance. Site interpretation projects may be
completed for the location of a standing ruin (such as Bondsville Mill below)
or for the interpretation of a building or structure.
Interpretation recommendations vary in scope. Self-guided tours of sites such as
large standing ruins may be facilitated either with brochures or with signage
that includes historic photos to convey a sense of the historic appearance of the
property during its period of significance. For buildings, Wise provides
materials for tour guides to explain the significance of the building, the
significance of property owners or other residents, and information for guided
tours that focus on architectural features of interest.
East Brandywine Township, Chester Co., purchased the site of a former mill on
Beaver Creek for potential use as a Township passive recreation park. The mill had
been abandoned for nearly a quarter of a century.
The mill, now mostly a ruin, is a multi-additive building. The original section,
built in the 1840s, was typical of its time, with multiple small windows lighting
two floors of interior space. Two large sections dating to the 1890s retained
several period design techniques, including a raised monitor, a partially intact
power plant, and a brick chimney. The Township was particularly interested in which
sections of the mill should be retained and which should be removed to provide space
for passive recreation.
Wise produced recommendations to help the Township meet its goals of providing a
safe passive recreation area for its residents. Historic sections of the mill were
recommended for retention, including the identification of specific features of high
historic interest. Two early 20th century sections in particularly poor condition
(portions of which had already collapsed) were recommended for removal. Walking trails
along the creek were discussed, including one looping around the mill site with
recommendations for interpretive signage.
This was a three-part project in Thornbury Township, Delaware Co. involving the
preparation of a Historic Structure Report (HSR), a National Register nomination,
and park site interpretative recommendations.
Wise was retained by the Township to develop a plan to incorporate the standing
ruins of the Taylor / Frazer farmhouse into an interpretive site for a Township park.
Wise produced the HSR, which included a detailed history of the famous site and
individuals associated with it. The ruins were carefully documented and analyzed for
structural preservation. Documentation was used to incorporate the site into the
Chester Creek National Register Historic District (Boundary Increase), which Wise
also prepared. Interpretative strategies for the site were then presented.
The Taylor/Frazer Ruins are now a featured and favored destination in the expanded
Bonsall Park. Based on the Wise documentation and recommendations, the ruins were
placed on the expanded Chester Creek National Register Historic District, carefully
stabilized to preserve the largest and most vulnerable elements of the ruin, and
interpreted. The ruins have become a favored destination in the Township’s expanded
Bonsall Park, with interpretative signage installed.
A nationally renowned sanctuary was created on the border of Berks and Schuylkill
Counties during the Great Depression. Unknown to most people, it was established
on the former site of a quarry operation. A rare gravity railroad ran 2300 feet up
the side of a steep mountain to bring the quarried stone down to a crusher and
awaiting Reading and Northern Railroad cars. The project involved documenting the
ruins, assessing historical and archeological significance, and providing interpretive
With the arrival of the railroad in the mid-19th century, the formerly wooded
property was logged, and the logs shipped out by rail. Two historic maps had already
identified a remarkably fine white sand on the property. This sand was highly desired
by glassmakers in the nearby city of Reading in the latter half of the century. To
access the sand at the top of the mountain, a gravity railroad was constructed to
transport the sandstone down the mountain to be crushed into sand and loaded onto the
railroad. The diagram to the left shows how the two cars on the gravity railroad
passed halfway down the hillside.
The infrastructure, head house, gravity railroad bed, and several stone
buildings are in a state of ruin.
Working with archaeologists, Wise documented the ruins on the property, established the
extent of the mining operations, and identified areas of high historic interest.
Recommendations included forest management in the area of the ruins to prevent
additional unnecessary deterioration of the site, relocating smaller items into the
existing visitor's center, and the creation of an interpretive program both along the
existing walking / hiking trails and in the visitor’s center.