A Tale of Two Historic Districts
Did you know that Annville has two historic districts? They were formed for different purposes, and they have different boundaries. Confusing? This article will clarify the matter: one district indicates a national distinction, the other serves the local community.
The Annville National Historic District. First, a bit of history. Friends of Old Annville came into existence in 1978-1980 in response to the demolition of two historic buildings just west of the bank in the town center. At the same time, several members of our group were preparing an application to nominate a portion of Annville as an official historic district to be included in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register Review Committee, after a thorough review, did officially recognize the Annville Historic District, and place it on the National Register of Historic Places. Annville thus became the first community in Lebanon County to have a nationally recognized historic district.
The Annville district gained national recognition as a prime example of linear development from the very early west end to the more recent east end. The different building styles and materials of the various eras are clearly evident in Annville’s largely complete collection of historic buildings. This nationally recognized district, running along Main Street from the Quittie Creek on the west end to Saylor Street on the east end, also includes Queen Street, mainly on the west end. The map below shows this national district as a shaded area (click on map to expand).
Inclusion on the National Register made property owners eligible for federal matching grants for restoration and rehabilitation, and protected the buildings in the district from demolition associated with federally-funded projects within the district. Inclusion in the National Register, however, does not protect the historic buildings from alteration or demolition by private property owners.
Annville Township Historic District (HARB Overlay). In the mid-1990’s, Tanya Richter and Kathy Moe of our organization helped to write a new ordinance of Annville Township, creating a historic district as a zoning overlay, and an Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) to better protect Annville’s unique and valuable collection of historic buildings. The current version of that ordinance (#587), edited and adopted by our Township Commissioners, defines the Annville Township Historic District as running along Main Street only (enclosed by the dotted lines on the map above). The purposes of the Township Historic District, as defined in the ordinance, are:
A. To protect that portion of Annville Township which reflects the cultural, economical, social, archaeological and architectural history of Annville Township, the State and the Nation.
B. To awaken in our people an interest in the historic past.
C. To promote the use and reuse of the historic buildings of Annville Township for the culture, education, pleasure and the general welfare of the people of Annville Township, the State and the Nation.
D. To strengthen the economy of Annville Township by stabilizing and improving property values within the historic district through the continued use, preservation, and restoration of its resources.
E. To encourage new buildings and developments that will be harmonious with the existing historic and architecturally important buildings.
F. To establish a clear process by which proposed changes affecting historic resources are reviewed.
G. To encourage the preservation of historic settings and landscapes.
Any modification to a building in the Annville Township Historic District (bounded by dashed lines on map) that requires a building permit be reviewed by Annville’s HARB and must receive from HARB a certificate of appropriateness before the modifications can take place. This second historic district, then, protects our valuable historic resources along the Main Street corridor in Annville.
These two districts, then, are meant to recognize and protect Annville’s unique collection of historic buildings. Federal recognition speaks to the inherent value of our collection of 18th and 19th century buildings. Our local protection measures seek to retain and build the value of our historic resources.