Projects and Services
Wise Preservation Planning LLC
1480 Hilltop Road
Chester Springs PA 19425
Phone (484) 202-8187
Wise 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 historic resources.
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.
CCHPN Spring Workshop 2014
The Chester County Historic Preservation Network (CCHPN)
held its spring workshop at the Chester County Historical
Society on March 15. Bob Wise gave a presentation on
historic resource impact studies, which outlined the
reasons for impact studies, how they are produced, and
what historical commissions can expect. The purpose of
impact studies is to help manage the impact of new
construction on existing historic resources. In one
of our recent projects, Wise helped to increase the
heritage area around a historic house (left) when the
large factory formerly located on the site was
demolished for a large residential project. Much of the
information from his presentation can be found in
Martin Luther King Day of Service
Bob Wise received a Certificate of Appreciation from
the Natural Lands Trust for volunteering on Martin
Luther King Day (January 20). NLT organized a work
party that cleared vines and brush in the 112-acre
Binky Lee Preserve in northern Chester County. The
project contributed to the stewardship of the natural
resources managed by NLT. Natural Lands Trust
protects land from development, actively cares
for these properties, and offers educational
opportunities and consulting services on
land stewardship and restoration of habitats.
East Pikeland Township Consultant
Wise Preservation is pleased to announce that we have been selected as Historic
Preservation Consultant for the East Pikeland Township Historical Commission.
The commission is one of the most active in Chester County. Through its efforts
East Pikeland has been recognized as a Preserve America Community, was one of the
first to complete its part of the Chester County Historic Atlas Project, helped draft
the Kimberton Area Heritage Action Plan, and continues to develop the Continental
Powder Works as an important heritage attraction. Currently Wise is assisting the
Commission with revising its Historic Resource Protection ordinance. We look forward
to working with East Pikeland Township, one of several municipalities that retain
our preservation consulting services.
Haddon Heights Historic Survey
Wise recently completed Phase 2 of the Intensive-Level Architectural Survey of Haddon Heights, New Jersey.
Wise documented 409 properties containing
historic residences, dating primarily to the years 1915
to 1931. These buildings were photographed and described,
and the descriptions were entered into the New Jersey
state Access database to create survey forms for each property.
The borough, located in Camden County, was
developed during the years 1890 to 1931. Wise
completed Phase 1 of the survey in 2012, when we
documented 550 properties in the center of the borough. The most common house
types are the American Foursquare, Bungalow,
Dutch Colonial Revival, Colonial Revival, Cape Cod,
and Victorian. The 2013 survey recommended creating a large historic
district with over 600 properties in the center of
Eagles Mere Historic District Expanded
On June 4, the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission's Preservation Board voted
unanimously to officially nominate an expansion of the Eagles Mere Historic District to
the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the Borough of Eagles Mere and
Shrewsbury Township, Sullivan County, the nomination doubles the size of the existing
500-acre district (listed in 1996) by adding Eagles Mere Lake and lands to the north,
east and west of the lake that include the resort community’s historic trail system.
These trails include the Red, White and Green Arrow Paths, and parts of the Yellow Arrow,
Loyalsock Canyon Vista Trail, and the former Eagles Mere Railroad grade. Along with the
Laurel Path (in the original district), many of these paths have been in constant use
for over 100 years. The trails and their adjacent forestland augment the district’s
conservation and recreation areas of significance; the district is recognized for its
statewide importance. The expansion will be officially listed to the National Register
of Historic Places sometime this summer by the National Park Service.
For more information on the Eagles Mere Historic District and the Boundary Increase,
see our separate page on the project. The nomination is
the 26th successful National Register nomination for Wise Preservation Planning.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC sponsored a workshop on February 16 as a part of a project
by Chester County staff to document the Battle of the Clouds,
a military engagement in eastern Chester County during the American Revolution. The
battle took place on September 16, 1777. A "nor'easter" storm interrupted the initial stages
of the battle, which allowed George Washington to fall back to a more strategic position.
The current project involves several tasks, including the identification of
houses and buildings that survive from the time of the battle. Wise's presentation gave
guidelines to assist historical commissions in documenting the ages of 18th century
buildings through research into secondary sources, deeds, probate records,
historic maps, and tax records.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC mourns the death of
Jane L.S. Davidson, who died on December 15. Jane was an early leader in the historic preservaton movement in
Chester County and Pennsylvania. She served for many years as the heritage preservation coordinator for Chester
County, and the wealth of information that she collected over the years will be treasured by our county.
For years Jane had worked closely with Bob and Seth. She was a valuable resource on many projects such as
the Brandywine Battlefield preservation project and in organizations such as the Chester County Historical Preservation
Network. We will miss her.
The Wiley/Cloud House was recently nominated to the National Register by the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Board
meeting in Harrisburg. The 18th century building is significant under Criterion C for architecture, and the Preservation
Board recommended it for statewide significance. Significant architectural elements of the house include its pent roof on three
sides, its plank construction, its interior bracing system, and its four-room interior plan. The plank construction is of
particular interest. The plank walls are attached into vertical corner posts and posts in the center of each wall.
The nomination form was approved unanimously by the Preservation Board. The nomination was then sent to the National Park
Service, which is reviewing it for any technical issues.
Plank houses were a common building technology of the 1700s and 1800s. Many plank houses have been demolished over the
years, and others have been re-clad or even stuccoed, so that their construction method is not easily detectible today.
It appears that the most intense period of construction of plank houses was in the early 19th century, from c. 1810 until
the advent of balloon frame technology in the 1830s.
In the 1830s, the then-owner, Bernard Wiley, invented a double-share plow on the property in the adjacent blacksmith
shop. This plow became the most popular type of plow in Chester County throughout the remainder of the 19th century and
was another of Chester County's contributions to agricultural technology.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC was recently retained to conduct a National Register project in Bangor, a borough in northeastern
Northampton County, Pa., incorporated in 1875. Bangor became an important center of slate mining in the 19th century and was named
for Bangor, Wales, which was also a leading slate production center. The existing
Bangor Central Historic District was granted a determination of eligibility (DOE) in 1996, although a minimal amount of documentation
was submitted at that time. The existing district encompasses the properties surrounding the commercial center of the Borough.
The Borough obtained a Keystone Grant that provides half of the funding for the project.
In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has initiated a policy of reviewing their earlier DOE
decisions. For the Bangor project, Wise will first complete a Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form that PHMC staff will use
for their re-consideration of the DOE. If the PHMC staff renew the DOE, Wise will then draft the National Register form.
Preservation Advocacy on Capitol Hill
On March 8 Robert Wise went to Washington to participate in Preservation Action’s annual Day of Advocacy. Preservation Action, the historic preservation “industry’s” advocacy organization, sponsors this event with the help of state-wide preservation organizations such as Preservation Pennsylvania. Preservation professionals come from all over the country to ask their respective congressional members to support historic preservation initiatives. This year, our goal was to convince members to: .
1. Support level funding for SHPOs and Tribal SHPOs.
2. Strengthen the Real Estate Investment Tax Credit and to make it more suitable for smaller projects, add a tax credit program for owner-occupied historic homes, and make it easier to restore historic school buildings.
3. Request $10 million for a competitive preservation grant program.
Our Pennsylvania team contacted all our congressional members or their staffs. It was a great day and it was an honor to participate.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC is pleased to report that the Sharpless Homestead was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 15, 2011. It is the 24th successful nomination drafted by Wise. The four-section house was built with green serpentine stone. The last section, built in 1860, was constructed with hexagonal shaped serpentine specially cut for decorative effect. The farmhouse is augmented by three serpentine stone outbuildings: a smoke house, springhouse, and stable. The historic sketch of the house and smoke house below was drawn in 1838 by a grandfather of Philadelphia councilman Thatcher Longstreth.
Several locally prominent members of the Sharpless family lived here. Joshua Sharpless, who built the southeast section, was the first important headmaster at Westtown School and played an important role in negotiations with Indian Chief Cornplanter that led to the establishment of the Tunesassa School for Indians in western New York State. His grandson Isaac Sharpless, the last family member to own the property, was a long time President of Haverford College who introduced a rigorous academic discipline there and helped establish the initial guidelines for accreditation of universities and colleges.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC is a sponsor of the 7th Annual
Historic House Tour, planned for September 24, 2011. Both Bob and Seth are
volunteering as tour guides.
The Tour is organized by the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust, which was
organized to save the historic Jones Log Barn. Come see some wonderful historic
houses! Click the logo here to go to their website - prepaid tickets are required.
Kuerner Farm National Historic Landmark
The Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford Township, Delaware County, Pa., was listed as a National Historic Landmark
on June 23, 2011. This is the second
successful National Historic Landmark nomination written by Wise Preservation. Andrew Wyeth, a world-renowned
artist who was raised one half mile to the west, completed many famous works at the Kuerner Farm, including
"The Kuerners," "Spring Fed," and the Helga series. The Kuerner Farm is owned by the Brandywine Conservancy, Inc.
The property includes a farmhouse, barn, pond, springhouse, farm fields, and agricultural outbuildings.
Note: In 1997, Wise wrote the National Historic Landmark nomination for the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio, where Andrew
Wyeth's father completed well-known illustrations in the early 20th century.
Glenmoore Historic District
Wise Preservation Planning LLC is pleased to announce that the Glenmoore Historic District was listed on the National
Register on March 18, 2011. The village is significant under Criterion C for architecture. The original village
was located on Fairview Road on the east side of the Brandywine. After the arrival of State Road (1851),
soon followed by the laying out of the railroad (1860), a second-growth Victorian village emerged on the
west side of the Brandywine. Glenmoore soon became the economic center of Wallace Township, and most commerce
in the Township relocated there. The village has a blend of Victorian architectural styles, with a higher
concentration of Gothic Revival and Folk Victorian. The district includes the only surviving train station
along the original railroad leading north from Downingtown to Honey Brook.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC continues to support local preservation efforts. In May, Wise was an exhibitor at the Pennsylvania Statewide Conference on Heritage, a three-day event held in the Commonwealth Keystone Building in Harrisburg. Wise had also been an exhibitor at the first annual Chester County Preservation Fair, held at Yellow Springs in April, where we gave our PowerPoint presentation on Chester County Barns. Wise has also supported other organizations and events, including the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust and the Kimberton Waldorf School at various fundraising events.
Fetters Mill Bridge
Wise Preservation Planning LLC has been working with residents of the Fetters Mill Village Historic District to plan for the future of the bridge in the center of the district. Montgomery County is looking into options including replacing the bridge and building a larger, two-lane bridge. Wise and village residents are concerned that such a bridge could negatively impact Fetters Mill Village as well as the Borough of Bryn Athyn. The iron deck truss bridge was built in 1917 and is a contributing resource in the district. Wise has been assisting village residents in the consultation process.
To serve you better, Wise Preservation Planning LLC recently moved into new offices. Located at the same address since 2006, our new office is approximately 50% larger. Ever the preservationists, we have retained a portion of the 15 foot oak work table from our original office in Paoli - it is currently used as a workspace for the collation of reports. We have additional space for our architecture books and the reports that we have produced since the business began in 1997.
Donating Our Time and Expertise in West Vincent Township
Wise is assisting West Vincent Township, Chester County, with completing the first phase of its comprehensive historic resource survey as part of the Chester County Historic Atlas Project. The Atlas Project will eventually survey, inventory, map and classify all historic resources in Chester County 50 years and older. The Atlas project uses the 1982 Chester County Historic Site Survey as its baseline and adds historic resources not identified in 1982. Wise has professionally assisted several other townships in this project and, as a "resident" of West Vincent, is assisting the township pro bono. Our work involves the inventory and mapping component of the 200+ property project.
Historic American Building Survey documentation training
In the fall of 2010, Bob Wise and Seth Hinshaw completed training for undertaking the type of documentation expected by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) program. The training enabled us to participate in the HABS documentation of the historic Headquarters Road Bridge near Orrville, Bucks County. The stone abutments and piers were built c. 1810, and the bridge was "modernized" by local architect Oscar Martin in 1919. Currently, PennDOT is considering plans to repair and/or replace the bridge, perhaps retaining portions of the original stone bridge elements. The HABS documentation is part of the mitigation to prevent its demolition. HABS, administered by the National Park Service, documents an extremely detailed set of measured elevations and floor plans of a resource with a concise history. Original drawings are deposited in the Library of Congress.
Celebrating Recent National Register listings in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton Co.
Wise is proud of our recent accomplishments in Lower Saucon Township. On June 28, 2010, the National Park Service listed the Heller Homestead on the National Register. The house has two major sections - one dating to c. 1750 and one built c. 1820. It was the second successful National Register nomination in Lower Saucon Township drafted by Wise. Wise also prepared the Lutz Franklin Schoolhouse, listed on December 30, 2008. Wise prepared these nominations in cooperation with Lower Saucon Township and the Saucon Valley Conservancy. Check out the Conservancy's website for more information about public activities at the Heller House.
Re-building the Jones Log Barn
Bob Wise help found the Tredyffrin Historic
Preservation Trust in 2001 with one major purpose: to rebuild the 18th century
Jones Log Barn. In the 1700s, most barns in Chester County were log, but very few
of these early log barns survive. Mr. Wise has been involved in the
construction planning and fund raising to rebuild this very rare architectural
gem. In late 2010 the Trust announced that
the massive foundation walls have now been rebuilt. With a little more
fundraising, the Trust will be able to rebuild the logs! If you are
interesting in helping out, please check out the Trust's website or call Bob Wise.
PowerPoint Presentations Help Promote Historic Preservation /
HARB & Historical Commission Training Workshops
Messrs. Wise and Hinshaw have made several presentations to educate and/or train
members of the preservation community and others about cultural resource protection
issues. Our newest training presentation, Chester
County Barns, provides an overview of how barns in Chester County changed over
time. The presentation was originally given as one of three architectural
presentations prior to the 2010 Chester County Town Tours and Village Walks.
It was then expanded and presented in its current form to the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust.
Our most popular PowerPoint presentation is Chester County
Residential Architecure, which we last presented to members of the West Vincent
Township Historic Committee. The Chester County
Historic Preservation Network recently held a workshop on the topic of
Historic Resource Impact Studies at the
Brandywine Conservancy, Chadds Ford, Pa. A panel of professionals, including
Bob Wise, demonstrated the importance and use of impact studies at the municipal level.
New Castle (Pa.) Airport Study
In January 2011 Wise was selected by the Lawrence County Airport Authority
to prepare a Comprehensive Historical Plan for the New Castle Airport. The project
will identify and evaluate historic resources in the vicinity of the airport,
including a collection of former military buildings adjacent to Runway-31. The
airport is a major economic component of the city and vicinity. As such, the plan
is being funded in part by the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development,
the Pa. Historical and Museum Commission, and the Pa. Department of Transportation
Bureau of Aviation. Waetzman Planning Group, Bryn Mawr, will assist Wise. The project
is the second major airport history project undertaken by Wise, the first being the
National Register Determination of Eligibility for Wings Field, Whitpain Township,
Pa., as part of a Section 106 Transportation project.
National Register and Historic Resource Survey Project Map
The map to the right identifies the locations of major National Register/National
Historic Landmark and historic resource survey projects completed by Wise Preservation
Planning LLC in southeastern Pennsylvania. The map does not show our projects in
Pennsylvania outside of the greater Philadelphia area or our New Jersey projects.
Black dots identify National Register nominations; red dots indicate our historic
A comprehensive listing of Wise's National Register projects is found on the National Register page, including associated projects
completed by Wise that are not mapped here (proposed new districts,
recommendations for boundary adjustments, determination of eligibility projects).
The complete list of survey projects is found on the
Historic Resource Survey page.
Wise Preservation Planning LLC's new website is now up and running.
It provides more information on our services and past projects. Click around on the left
to learn about how we may help you plan for historic resources!