Bradford's Downtown Buildings Tell a Story

Bradford’s Downtown Historic District tells a story worth preserving.

While the oil industry is the basis of Bradford’s history, the story told by the buildings downtown goes further than that, according to Erin Hammerstedt of Preservation Pennsylvania.

“We can see different phases of development from the early settlement patterns in the lumber phase to the boom phase and, really, what most of your buildings reflect are the post oil boom stabilization,” she said during a presentation Monday evening in Bradford.

“People had the money in their pockets, they were feeling good, they were going to stay awhile. …. their other buildings burned down,” she said, referring to the history of fires in Downtown Bradford. “They were ready to make their mark and build something that had their name on it.”

Hammerstedt said she wasn’t sure if people were aware of how much work has been done in the Historic District in the last few years.

“In the last five years at least 10 buildings have been remarkably improved with maintenance and upkeep,” she said.

As an example, she showed two pictures of the building where Triple A Nail is located – one from today; one from 2009. The first picture showed the building with peeling paint and, generally, in deplorable condition. Now, it is one of the most beautiful buildings on Main Street.

She also mentioned the brick buildings, saying, “Brick is one of the character-defining features here in Bradford. You have so many beautiful varieties of brick made locally and used locally.” She added that the ironwork and sculpting by other artisans is impressive.

Hammerstedt also talked about why historic districts are important. In one word: Tourism. Tourism is the number two industry in Pennsylvania, and historic districts are the number one destinations of tourists.

Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, noted that tourists do tell her – and write in the organization's guest book – about the beauty of Downtown Bradford.

Hammerstedt will be at a work session prior to Tuesday’s City Council meeting to give another presentation about her "re-inventory" of Historic District properties, and will be meeting with building owners throughout the day.

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Anonymous said…
Oh, how we've missed your writing at city and township meetings! Glad you're back!!!

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