PUBLIC NOTICE Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review of Eastern State Penitentiary Visitor Center
September 26, 2019
Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review of Eastern State Penitentiary Visitor Center
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc., a grant to construct a new visitor center within the Eastern State Penitentiary, located in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended, 16 U.S.C. § 470. NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties. If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells held approximately 80,000 men and women over nearly 150 years. More than 300 prisons, on six continents, took their design from Eastern State Penitentiary, a radial design created by architect John Haviland. For its worldwide influence, Eastern State was named a National Historic Landmark in 1965, while still operating as a prison.
In its grant application, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc., plans to renovate and construct within the confines of the Eastern State Penitentiary Administration Building located at the Fairmount Avenue entrance, located at 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia PA 19130. The work includes creation of a new visitor center, retail space, public restroom facilities, new lighting, new green roofs, and HVAC systems. A multi-purpose room, additional public restrooms and an accessible entrance will be inserted within the existing walled courtyard, covered with a sloped glass roof to preserve the views to the Administration Building's central tower. There will be repainting, window restoration. The project will be coordinated with a storm water management plan to install a below grade storm water retention basin, covered by concrete similar to the site's original appearance; relocating existing electrical equipment to a less visible area and new accessible ramp and stair to the organization's offices.
In a letter dated March 6, 2018 Karen Arnold, Cultural Resources Coordinator for the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office advised that the proposed undertaking will have no adverse effect upon historic properties, as defined by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to [email protected]. The deadline for submitting comments is October 10, 2019.