Historic Preservation = Sustainability

What does historic preservation have to do with sustainability? Lots!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation explains, “The conservation and improvement of our existing built resources, including re-use of historic and older buildings, greening the existing building stock, and reinvestment in older and historic communities, is crucial to combating climate change… The construction, operation and demolition of buildings accounts for 48% the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions.”

Not to mention, reusing older buildings preserves the historic character of the towns and takes advantage of the walkable, accessible layout that can be found in many of the Trail Towns. Currently there are a number of historic properties for sale all along the Great Allegheny Passage that would be perfect for opening a business. Check out www.historicproperties.com (Search Connellsville, Meyersdale and Rockwood) or www.downtownproperties.net (Select “Trail Towns”) to check them out.

Here are some businesses are already occupying, renovating and enjoying historic buildings along the Great Allegheny Passage.

  • Confluence Cyclery – Confluence, PA: Brad and Maureen Smith renovated and revamped a major historic facade in Confluence’s Town Center.  Their improvements have saved them money and enlivened the look of downtown Confluence.
  • Youghiogheny Station – Connellsville, PA: The Youghiogheny Opalescent Class Company‘s (one of six stained glass manufactuers in the U.S.) retail outlet is now housed in the beautiful 1911 Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Line station. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building still boasts original features like the ticket office, departure board, lighting fixtures and marble mosaic floor. This building also happens to be for sale.
  • La Boheme – Connellsville, PA: Lucy and John King, owners of La Boheme art glass shop on Connellsville’s West Side are currently renovating the upper floors of their building to be a bed and breakfast highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Connellsville. Choosing this location was  a conscious decision for the Kings,  infusing life and beauty into downtown. They are also hiring local workers to complete the improvements!
  • Rockwood Mill Shoppes and Opera House – Rockwood, PA: The old lumber and feed mill and opera house built between 1898-1905 has been painstakingly restored to its former glory by the Pletcher family. They de-grimed, de-greased and restored the lower floors and the hidden treasure of the opera house. They chose colors and finishings based on historical information and are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Mill Shoppes and Opera House are now highlights of any trip to Rockwood.
  • Hostel on Main – Rockwood, PA: Another Pletcher family endeavor, the Hostel was once a general store, built in 1900. With the old ice box, tin ceilings and original wood floors the Hostel is oozing character. Not only did they renovate, but they purposefully bought energy star appliances, windows and insulation to “green” the property.
  • Levi Deal Mansion Bed and Breakfast – Meyersdale, PA:  The 15-room former home of coal and timber baron Levi Deal was finished in 1900 and recalls the grandeur of the gilded-age. The restored B&B feautures stained-glass windows, round towers, and a ballroom on the top floor.

You can explore more great features on the National Trust’s website on Historic Preservation and Sustainability including: how green is your main street, how to make your historic building energy efficient, sustainability by the numbers, and more!

Other ideas or stories about historic preservation? Post them below!

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Filed under Creative re-use, Green on the GAP, in Southwestern PA, inspiration, Resources

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