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Historic Designation

Current Status: The nomination of Overbrook Farms as an Historic District by the Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC) will be reviewed by the Nominating Committee of the PHC on October 16, 2019. Final review of the Committee’s recommendation and action of the PHC will take place at the Commission’s meeting on November 8, 2019. Meetings of the PHC are open to the public for comment and generally begin around 9am at 1515 Arch Street, Philadelphia.

Overbrook Farms was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the federal Department of the Interior in 1984. Aside from the honorific value, national designation does not currently carry much value for your average private homeowner. Its main value today is as a prerequisite for acquiring Historic Tax Credits (HTCs), which are mostly used by developers for financing renovations of large historic properties. The cost of structuring such tax credits makes them only worthwhile for larger-budget, often commercial development projects. HTCs are thus rarely of value to your average private home renovation project. Nevertheless, we can be proud of our national designation.

The Philadelphia Historical Commission (PHC), in cooperation with the Overbrook Farms Club (OFC) led efforts to nominate the neighborhood to Philadelphia’s Historic Register in the early 2000s. This local Historic Register nomination is entirely independent of and a separate process from the national registration. The nomination, which was prepared by the staff of the PHC, was submitted and accepted as complete by the PHC in fall of 2004. Today, over a decade later, it remains pending owing to capacity limits at the PHC. More recent changes in priorities at the PHC have renewed interest in finally placing Overbrook Farms on the Philadelphia Register as an Historic District.

Despite the pending nature of the nomination, Overbrook Farms residents have been living under the protections of the PHC since 2004. So, the eventual passage of the designation will not change much in the way property owners in our neighborhood manage.

The way the Historic Preservation Ordinance of the City of Philadelphia is written, all of the powers and rules of historic designation go into effect as soon as a nomination is accepted as complete by the PHC. (They can only go away if the PHC ultimately does not decide to designate.) This is largely to guard against the destruction of historic properties while a nomination is being reviewed--designation is in force unless otherwise declined by the PHC. More information about our local Historic District designation and what it means for homeowners will be forthcoming in this section.