Working with the Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB)

In 1961, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Historic District Act, authorizing local governments to regulate the erection, restoration, alteration, addition and demolition of buildings and structures in certified historic districts. This bill introduced Historical Architectural Review Boards, or HARBs for short, to ensure the protection of the distinctive and historic character of townships all over Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s history is synonymous with the birth of our great nation, which is why we are committed to working with and adhering to HARB guidelines, primarily in Gettysburg, doing our part to preserve our roots for future generations.

Presenting Your Project to HARB

The primary criteria HARB takes into account when reviewing a proposal is the architectural appropriateness. That means the overall design, materials, colors, and architectural suitability with the surrounding area.

Before submitting your project make sure you have:

  • A HARB Application
  • Photographs of the existing work site and any additional photographs necessary to document the existing conditions
  • Plans which depict the proposed work and its location in relation to existing and nearby structures
  • Color samples
  • Material samples

HARB meetings take place monthly. The month after your project is presented to the review board, HARB’s recommendations are presented and City Council votes to approve or deny a Certificate of Appropriateness. Architecture Workshop Inc has a proven track record of streamlining the presentation process towards approval for those in Gettysburg.

Receiving a Certificate of Appropriateness from HARB

Before a property owner, tenant or contractor can undertake any alterations or additions to the exteriors of properties located in a Municipally Regulated Historic District, they must submit plans for review by HARB.

Applications must be filed with the Borough at least ten days before the next HARB meeting. If the board approves the project, applicants will receive a Certificate of Appropriateness.

When is a Certificate of Appropriateness Required?

This is a question we are asked frequently by our clients in Gettysburg. Any treatment that affects the exterior of the building and is visible from the street required HARB approval before any work begins. This includes:

  • Window changes
  • Modifications to doors
  • Roofs
  • Porches
  • Siding installation
  • Signage
  • New units
  • Air conditioners / Heating units
  • Lights on buildings or properties

Having completed an extensive amount of work in historic districts, we are more than happy to assist clients to prepare and present their plans at the monthly HARB meeting to ensure they comply with the National Trust for Historic Preservation guidelines.

What are Historic Districts?

In Pennsylvania, there are two main types of historic districts: National Register Historic Districts and Municipally Regulated Historic Districts.

What are Nation Register Historic Districts?

National Register Historic Districts are areas that possess a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of historic buildings, structures, objects or sites designated by the National Park Service as worthy of preservation.

What are Municipally Regulated Historic Districts?

Municipally Regulated Historic Districts are both residential and commercial areas that include buildings, structures, objects or sites that may be listed or are eligible to be included on the National Register. Given their historical significance or proximity to historical significance, all alterations must be approved by the local HARB.

If you reside in Gettysburg or anywhere else in PA and are concerned about submitting requests to HARB, contact Architecture Workshop Inc. to advise and aid you in the process. We look forward to helping you make the changes you wish.