Programs & Services /
Historic homes, barns, bridges and other structures give Lancaster County a distinctive character – one that appeals to residents and visitors alike. The Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County recognizes historic structures when they qualify for the Preservation Trust Historic Plaque Program.
To recognize historically and architecturally significant structures in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, as well as to encourage the preservation of the county's rich history.
Criteria for Evaluation:
Buildings, structures, sites, districts, and objects may be considered for listing on the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County’s Historic Sites Register if they possess significance in Lancaster County history, architecture, and culture. In addition, sites should possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. Sites are evaluated based on the following criteria:
- Significant Historical Events: Site that are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history;
- Significant Historical Persons: Sites that are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past;
- Architectural Significance: Sites that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or that represent the work of master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction.
In order to qualify for the listing on the Lancaster County Historic Sites Register, a property must retain the essential physical features that enable it to convey its historic identity and/or character and therefore its significance. Integrity is the authenticity of the property’s identity and significance and is evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s historic period.
NOTE: The sites of historic events, such as a battlefield or the location of the demolished structure, are typically not eligible for a Site Marker. These properties my qualify for a state historical marker. Visit: https://www.phmc.pa.gov/Preservation/Historical-Markers/Pages/default.aspx for more information.
Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, or graves of historical figures, or properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes will not be considered unless their significance is primarily architectural, of artistic distinction of historical importance, or are the only sites existing for historical figures of outstanding importance. Likewise, structures that have been moved from their original locations will be considered only if their significance is primarily architectural or if they are the only known site relating to a person of outstanding historical importance. Properties that have achieved significance within the past fifty years shall not be considered eligible for a Site Marker unless they are of exceptional historical and/or architectural importance according to the standards developed for the National Register of Historic Places.
Ordinarily structures that have been substantially altered during the past fifty years will not be considered for a Site Marker. Alterations may include additions, installation of inappropriate exterior surface materials, sandblasting or other abrasive cleaning, or removal of significant architectural features. The level of integrity will be evaluated by the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County.
$500 covers cost of plaque and a donation to the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County. A non-refundable deposit of $50 must be made at the time of application. This deposit will be applied against the total $500 due upon acceptance into the Lancaster County Historic Sites Registry. Installation is the plaque purchaser’s responsibility.
Does Your Property Qualify?
To qualify for the program, a structure must have been built during the World War II era or earlier and must be associated with at least one of the following:
The site of a significant local, state or national event.
Person or People
A site that can be identified with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the development of the county, state or nation.
Builder / Designer / Architect
The work of a master builder, designer, or architect whose individual work has influenced the development of the county, state or nation.
A building that is recognized for the quality of its architecture.
Preserved or Reused
An example of historic preservation excellence, including re-adaptive use
Historic Plaque Program Application
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Resources for researching the histories of Lancaster County structures:
- At its headquarters at 123 N. Prince St., the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County has information about thousands of historic properties around the county. It’s open Monday-Thursday (Fridays by appointment). Call 291-5861 or visit hptrust.org.
- You probably can find most of the past owners of your property by searching the Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds’ website, Lancasterdeeds.com. For older deeds, you may need to use the site’s e-film reader, for which there are instructions on the site.
- Bonnie L. Bowman, recorder of deeds, says researchers may call 299-8238, or visit the office in the county government center, 150 N. Queen St., Suite 315, on weekdays to ask her staff for help. Download deed documents at home at no cost; printouts at the recorder’s office will run you 25 cents a page.
- On the archives’ website, co.lancaster.pa.us/lancoarchives, click “House History resources” link for a description of documents, records and maps that might be useful in research. The county archives are in Suite 10 of the county government center. Call: 299-8319.
- Twice a year, archivist John Bennawit offers a free class, “Homemade History: Researching Your Historic Home in the Lancaster County Archives.” This year, the course will be offered June 7 and Sept. 13, at the county government center. Reserve a seat at 299-8257.
- Help in searching documents through the county historical society, Lancasterhistory.org, is available Monday-Saturday at the Campus of History, Marietta and North President avenues. Call 392-4633. The “Guides “ menu on the society’s website contains a “House History” section that will guide you through the process of examining your house for useful architectural evidence, and searching land records and other resources.
- The Lancaster Mennonite Society , 2215 Millstream Road, contains records including family histories, estate papers, photographs, postcards and historical books published by local municipalities. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday. Call 393-9745 or visit Lmhs.org.