Documenting Our Historic Structures

unnamed (5)A documented home from Lower Frederick Township

With assistance from the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, the Bureau for Historic Preservation (PHMC/BHP), the Township Planning Commissions, and local volunteers, Heritage Conservancy has begun conducting inventories of historic buildings in Abington and Lower Frederick Townships, Montgomery County, for a Historic Resources Survey (HRS) Project.

Both townships were founded in the early 1700s and are rich with history. Abington Township is home to some of the county’s oldest buildings and transportation routes, and Lower Frederick Township has strong agricultural ties. The HRS Project will identify and document each community’s historic resources in order to increase public awareness and education, which is essential in promoting preservation.

The HRS process is performed primarily by volunteers, and it includes gathering data on resources through research using public records, historic maps and written material, and field survey. In their fieldwork, volunteers travel on public roads to photograph and record information on buildings, including their historic functions and current functions, their architectural styles (Colonial, Early Republican, Mid-19th Century, Late Victorian, etc.), and their exterior materials.

unnamed (6)A documented home from Abington Township

The purpose of the survey is to gather relevant facts about properties as a way of understanding the age, nature, and location of historic places. Once completed, this information will be compiled and entered into a database, which will be available to the public through the PHMC/BHP website. The information will be utilized to document our past as a snapshot in time and to prioritize resources for continued preservation and enhancement. It can also be used to direct future studies, inform planning processes, and make decisions about development activities that might affect those resources.

According to Mary Lou McFarland, Senior Preservation Specialist at Heritage Conservancy, “It is important that we recognize the irreplaceable historic resources that make each community unique. Surveys help to educate the public and provide a framework to encourage preservation for future generations. It is also a lot of fun and very rewarding to participate in the field work.”

If you are interested in the history of our community & your neighborhood, we invite you to participate in this historic inventory! Join up with other community members and be a part of documenting history. We will provide training, which includes a one-page survey form and photography tips. Contact Mary Lou McFarland at or 215-345-7020 ext. 109 for more information. We hope to have all of the documentation gathered by early 2016.