May 9, 2016 | Malcolm Johnstone
West Chester PA — Perhaps the leading characteristic of West Chester is its history. You can see it on every street, reflected in every structure, and told through interpretive signs throughout the Borough. But history can be ephemeral if not protected and retold. That is why part of the vision of the West Chester BID is to tell these stories while encouraging the best practices in preserving our community’s historical stock.
It should be no surprise that West Chester once again joins the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center in recognizing May as National Historic Preservation Month. This year, the West Chester BID is rolling out an Online Walking Tour of the Downtown Historic District. Each of the 16 highlighted places will be released on a weekday in May. Follow along on Brandywine Traveler on Facebook. All represent some extraordinary aspect of West Chester’s 300-year-old history.
Additionally, the BID recently sponsored the Historic Architecture Photography Contest as part of National History Day which was sponsored by the BID and hosted in West Chester at the Chester County Historical Society. The winners will be recognized by Mayor Carolyn Comitta at May’s Borough Council meeting.
In her proclamation marking May as Historic Preservation month last year, Mayor Carolyn Comitta remarked that “historic preservation is an effective tool for fostering local pride and maintaining community character while enhancing livability.”
“It’s important we celebrate the role that West Chester has played throughout history in the development of our region and nation,” she said. “I’m calling upon the residents of the Borough to join their fellow citizens across the United States in recognizing this special month as a keystone date for the many accomplishments made through Historic Preservation activities.”
West Chester regularly is recognized for its heritage. It’s been touted as one of the most successful historic communities in Pennsylvania. And the National Trust for Historic Preservation selected West Chester as a Distinctive Destination.
It doesn’t happen by itself. Diligence is a constant factor.
To that end, several projects are in play to encouraged preservation in West Chester. The West Chester Downtown Foundation has created a historic preservation awards program to recognize local individuals who have completed outstanding preservation projects. The Borough of West Chester has partnered with the West Chester Business Improvement District to develop and approve the West Chester Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan.
Historic preservation is everyone’s concern in the Borough. And today, there are more tools than ever to achieve the best practices that will preserve West Chester’s past.