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Historic Preservation

See also: Antiques & Collectibles, Historical Societies & Commissions, Home Remodeling & Repair, Arts & Crafts Movement, House Histories.

Selected Books

Abramovitch, Ingrid
Restoring a House in the City
q NA7520.A27 2009
Twenty-one real-life renovations are featured in this book, from stately town houses to brownstone fixer-uppers.
Caring for Your Historic House
q TH4817.C32 1998
A house is considered historic if it is typical of its period, usually more than 50 years old, and significant in either design, materials, workmanship, setting, and/or association. People living in historic houses need to understand the importance of ongoing care and maintenance in preserving the qualities that make their homes and properties unique. This book by the National Heritage Preservation Institute Staff provides expert advice on every aspect of the subject.
Cranfield, Ingrid
Georgian House Style: An Architectural and Interior Design
NA640.C73 1997
Re-create or restore the classical elegance of the Georgian period of architecture (1714-1830) in your home.
Crochet, Treena
Colonial Style: Creating Classic Interiors in Your Cape, Colonial, or Saltbox Home
q NK2003.C76 2005
In this book, interior-designer and period home renovation specialist Treena Crochet presents a wealth of interior architectural elements that can add colonial spirit to any old or new home.
Foster, Janet W. and Radek Kurzaj (photographer)
The Queen Anne House: America's Victorian Vernacular
q NA7207.F67 2006
Through photographs of 21 different examples, Foster (associate director, Historic Preservation Program, Columbia U.) examines the evolution of the American version of the Queen Anne home.
Guild, Robin
The Victorian House Book: A Practical Guide to Home Repair and Decoration
q NA7125.G853 2008
Although a British book, it details numerous interior and exterior styles -- from the High Victorian and Queen Anne Revival to the Classical and Gothic -- and showcases homes from the United States and Great Britain.
Hershman, Susan
House Colors: Exterior Color by Style of Architecture
NA2795.H47 2007
House Colors is a comprehensive resource on choosing exterior house colors. Sorted by architectural style, this format will allow the reader to pinpoint the colors that will best suit their style of home.
Hewitt, Mark Alan and Gordon Bock
The Vintage House: A Guide to Successful Renovations and Additions
TH4816.H49 2011
Provides practical guidance and best practices for renovating historical houses while preserving their historical and architectural integrity.
Howard, Hugh
How Old Is This House?: A Skeleton Key to Dating and Identifying Three Centuries of American Houses
NA7205 .H73 1989
On the dating of houses by style, by building materials, through histories, insurance maps. A charming and sensible book.
Interior Finishes and Fittings for Historic Building Conservation
TH6010.I54 2011
Directed to a UK audience and to the professional, this book takes the reader through the process of conserving historic interior finishes, covering everything from decorative plasterwork, joinery and paint colour; to chimney pieces, lighting and fire safety management.
Jenkins, Joseph C.
The Slate Roof Bible: Understanding, Installing and Restoring the World's Finest Roof
q TH2445.J45 1997
Pennsylvania-based Jenkins, a slate roofing contractor, provides the history and lore of slate roofing, along with step-by-step instructions, trade secrets, and advice for those who design, install, repair, own, or simply enjoy the look of slate roofs.
Light, Sally
House Histories: A Guide to Tracing the Genealogy of Your Home
NA7205 .L54 1989x
A guide to help you answer questions about your historic home's origins, style, materials, past owners and events.
McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester
A Field Guide to American Houses
NA7205 .M35 1984
The guide that enables you to identify, and place in their historic and architectural contexts, the houses you see in your neighborhood or in your travels across America. 17th century to the present.
Morgan, William
The Abrams Guide to American House Styles
NA7205.M6793 2004
Architectural historian Morgan notes how confusing it is to sort out American styles of architecture and so has created this reference for homeowners. It contains 15 style-oriented chapters presenting a total of 23 styles (to incorporate regional variations), represented by some 400 houses from 40 states. Each section comprises color photos (and some drawings) accompanied by brief introductory text and a chart identifying distinguishing characteristics.
Nash, George
Renovating Old Houses: Bringing New Life to Vintage Homes
q TH4816.N3623 2003
Drawing on years of renovation experience, Nash shows you what it takes to make an old house convenient and livable by present-day standards, while still retaining or restoring important historical details.
Nylander, Jane C.
Fabrics & Wallpapers for Historic Buildings
TS1767.N93 2005
This reference includes more than 1000 authentically reproduced wallpaper designs and 600 fabric types and patterns for those restoring or researching American houses built between 1700 and 1900.
O'Connor, Kevin
The Best Homes from This Old House
TH4816.O29 2011
Before and after stories of 10 of the best homes showcased on This Old House.
Versaci, Russell
Creating a New Old House: Yesterday's Character for Today's Home
q NA7205.V47 2003
Featuring 18 homes, this guidebook by a Virginia-based architect offers ideas and techniques for instilling "core pillars of tradition" in new homes. Styles range from Craftsman Arts and Crafts Bungalow to Midwestern Greek Revival. Co- published with the American Institute of Architects.
Victorian Architectural Details: Designs for over 700 Stairs, Mantels, Doors, Windows, Cornices, Porches, and Other Decorative Elements
q NA7207.D47 2005
Hundreds of rare illustrations depict wide range of design alternatives for prospective homeowners and other customers of the late 19th century. Reprint of Detail, cottage and constructive architecture (1873).


The American House: A Guide to Architectural Styles
(DVD) NA7205.A6587 2005x
An overview of styles of domestic architecture commonly found in the United States, covering: Tudor, Neo-Classical, Queen Anne, Bungalow, Ranch, Prairie, Colonial Revival, Contemporary, and Post-Modern.
House Styles
(DVD) NA7205.H6979 2001x
An overview of styles of domestic architecture commonly found in the United States, covering: Colonial, Cape Cod, Tudor, French, Neoclassical, Spanish, Victorian, Brownstone, Prairie Style, Craftsman, Ranch, Split-level, International, Contemporary/Modern, and Eclectic/Transitional.

Pittsburgh Region

  • City of Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission
    The Historic Review Commission (HRC) protects and maintains historically and architecturally significant buildings and neighborhoods in the City.
  • Community Design Center of Pittsburgh
    The CDCP's RenPlan® program provides affordable consultations with architects, landscape architects, and interior designers to homeowners who are planning improvements.
  • Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation
    This nonprofit organization provides loans to community organizations interested in restoring historic neighborhoods and buildings. They also award historic plaques for historic buildings.
    • Landmarks Housing Resource Center
      The Landmarks Housing Resource Center in Wilkinsburg offers workshops and seminars on home ownership, restoration, do-it-yourself work, cost-effective tips on green initiatives, and discussions on neighborhood and community development.
    • Spotlight on Main Street
      “Spotlight on Main Street” focuses community attention on the history, architectural significance, and enduring value of East Carson Street, South Side's historic main street.
  • Preservation Pittsburgh
    Preservation Pittsburgh has information about preserving Pittsburgh heritage. It concentrates on preserving "heritage buildings" such as the Mellon Arena (formerly the "Civic Area").
  • House Histories: Researching Your House
    A "House Histories" pathfinder from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Department about tracing the genealogy of your home.
  • Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh: Mainstreets Pittsburgh
    Mainstreets Pittsburgh is designed to provide Pittsburgh's neighborhood business organizations a range of technical assistance and financial incentives in a coordinated, comprehensive manner based upon the National Trust for Historic Preservation's four-point "Main Street" approach.
  • Western Pennsylvania Craftsmen's Guild
    Look here for experts in carpentry, carved and glass signs, custom period furniture, fireplace services, gilding, handmade tile, hardware restoration, iconography, ornamental iron, painting, plastering, stained glass, stripping/refinishing, upholstering, and woodworking.
  • Wilkinsburg: Historic Preservation
    Information on Wilkinsburg's history and information for preserving historic houses.
  • Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh (YPA)
    Formed in 2002, the YPA is a broad-based regional coalition of dynamic preservation leaders organized to ignite a new historic preservation movement in southwestern Pennsylvania.

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House Tours

Many neighborhood organizations open restored houses for an annual house tour. You can search the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for "house tours" and get more information. Listed below are some with websites:

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  • Pennsylvania Downtown Center
    Pennsylvania Downtown Center is a nonprofit organization that works to promote and support the vitality of Pennsylvania's downtowns and traditional neighborhood business districts by providing affordable outreach and technical assistance to communities, tailored to their unique economic and social environment. They work with downtowns of all sizes, urban and rural.
  • Preservation Pennsylvania
    Preservation Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth's only statewide, private non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of historically and architecturally significant properties. It administers a federally-funded construction grant and loan program (Southwestern Pennsylvania Historic Building Grant & Loan Programs) for historic properties in nine western Pennsylvania counties for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission.

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Web Sites

  • Historic New England Wallpaper
    Historic New England’s internationally-known wallpaper collection has become one of the largest in the country, with more than 5,000 pieces, including examples removed from walls as well as pieces used to cover pamphlets, line trunks, and decorate fire boards and band boxes.
  • National Park Service: Technical Preservation Services
    Offers Preservation Briefs to provide guidance on preserving, rehabilitating and restoring historic buildings. Some of these briefs are also available in print form in the library.
  • National Register of Historic Places
    Part of the National Parks Service, the National Register database contains addresses for more than 80,000 properties and includes an searchable index of more than two million terms.
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
    "A private, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable. It fights to save historic buildings and the neighborhoods and landscapes they anchor."
    • National Trust Main Street Center
      The Main Street Center focuses on traditional commercial district revitalization using historic preservation and grassroots-based economic development.
  • Old House Journal Online
    Includes articles from previous issues
  • Old House Web
    Remodeling, home improvement, historic restoration how-to and plans.
    Are you in the market for old historic houses? Look at the current and past listings.
    An online resource for historic preservation, building restoration and cultural resource management in the United States & Canada. The directory lists over 1,300 online preservation organizations, programs and historical societies in North America.
  • PreserveNet
    This website from the National Council for Preservation Education Inc., offers many links to preservation resources listed by category.
  • Recent Past Preservation Network
    The Recent Past Preservation Network promotes the preservation of buildings from the recent past, those that are less than fifty-years old, buildings that are considered "out of style" or buildings that are declared "non-contributing" to history at the civic, state, or national level.
  • Restoring Prosperity
    Preservation is often more than an individual issue and depends on community and state-wide initiatives. The Restoring Prosperity Initiative is a joint effort of groups in six states (including Pennsylvania) and at the national level to develop and advance an agenda for revitalizing America's older industrial cities (one of which is Pittsburgh). For more background on the problem, see the Brookings Institution report: Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities.
  • This Old House
    Originally a PBS/WGBH television series on restoring old houses, now a magazine. Their projects are from different areas of the US and so exhibit a range of styles.