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North Hills Monthly

Lawrenceville Added to National Register of Historic Places

Jul 30, 2019 09:49AM ● By North Hills Monthly magazine

In July, Lawrenceville was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Register was authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

The listing honors the neighborhood’s history but has no effect on private property owners in the district. 

“Lawrenceville was built into one of the city’s greatest neighborhoods through the hard work of generations of those who came before us—our challenge now is to protect it for generations to come,” said District 7 Councilwoman Deb Gross of the designation.

“Lawrenceville is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, founded in 1814. It has such unique, historic character, which has directly led to its current economic boom,” said Brian Mendelssohn of the Lawrenceville Historical Society. “We are very happy the National Park Service recognizes the hard work by so many in preserving Lawrenceville’s historic buildings. This designation will only encourage more historic preservation. We love that it encompasses both the residential parts and the business district.” 

The City’s full National Register nomination document says in part: 

“The period of significance of the historic district extends from 1814 to 1950. 1814 is the date of the founding of the original village of Lawrenceville around the Allegheny Arsenal, also established in that year, all on land purchased by William Barclay Foster. By 1950, the neighborhood had largely been built out, and Lawrenceville’s industrial production had reached its peak. 

The historic district includes 22 blocks of Butler Street, the neighborhood’s primary commercial corridor; the site of the Civil War-era Allegheny Arsenal, part of which is now a public park, and remaining resources associated with this complex; industrial and institutional resources that provided employment and medical and educational services to the community in the 19th and 20th centuries; churches; two cemeteries, including Allegheny Cemetery, previously listed individually on the National Register; and many blocks of residential resources representing a range of architectural styles as expressed in, predominantly, working class housing from the early 19th to the mid-20th centuries.” 

The nomination was written by Angelique Bamberg of Clio Consulting, Jesse Belfast of Michael Baker International and by Carol Peterson, the late Lawrenceville historian, writer and preservationist. 

“None of this could have happened without support from the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and team members from Lawrenceville United and the Lawrenceville Corporation, who shared with us their well-defined public involvement mechanism,” said city Historic Preservation Planner Sarah Quinn. 

Quinn had special praise for Peterson, who died of cancer in 2017.  

“This project wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful without her vast knowledge of Lawrenceville history,” Quinn said.