Historic Property Survey

Keystone Historic Preservation Grant

As of June 10, 2019, Community Development Corporation (CDC) Bona Fide Bellevue has been awarded a $7,500 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grant to undertake a comprehensive historic resource inventory of the Borough of Bellevue in Allegheny County, PA. 

The Keystone Historic Preservation Grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commissions has matched funds provided by Bonafide Bellevue to provide an overall $15,000 to complete an inventory and survey of all historic buildings and resources located in the 1 square mile borough that borders the City of Pittsburgh. According to Allegheny County records, 1,200 (or nearly half) of the buildings in the borough are over 100 years old. 

The research produced by this project will provide professional reports and data to inform conversations and decisions about community development, historic preservation, and borough initiatives. The intended outcome is to engage neighbors in proactively designing the future of Bellevue’s built landscape to benefit all residents while honoring the area’s heritage.

According to Chris Driscoll, the organization’s vice-chair, “Bonafide Bellevue inspires community-driven vibrancy, and calling attention to Bellevue’s historic assets is a continuous theme that has garnered significant interest and participation in projects such as the Bellevue House Tour and Historic Plaque Program.” Driscoll continues, “This grant will support the further celebration of our community by the documentation of its resources.”

State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl expressed his support behind this initiative: “By preserving and building on the past, we can ensure that future generations know about our community’s history while supporting the vibrant evolution of our neighborhoods.”

 The implementation period for this grant runs from October 2019 to September 2021.

How does this benefit Bellevue?

According to county data, Bellevue has over 1,200 properties over 100 years old in approximately 1 sq. mile. The purpose of the project is to identify historic resources of Bellevue for any future planning initiatives that benefit the public and the revitalization of the community. This includes identifying potential National Register-eligible historic districts and individual properties.  

Celebrating historic resources and preservation is undoubtedly a key component of revitalizing communities that are lucky to have the number of historic buildings that Bellevue does.

Practical Preservation will also include in the report background research and context of the Bellevue’s history.

They will not be performing detailed research on individual properties.

How does this affect me? What, if any, personal info on homeowners would be used in the assessment?

No effort is required on a property-owners behalf. Property owner data is not included in the survey. Businesses occupying commercial space may be used for reference purposes. They will not be performing detailed research on individual properties.

Who is doing the work?

West-Virginia-based preservation consultants Practical Preservation was selected from an RFP (Request for Proposals) process in 2019. They could be canvassing the Borough on any day at any point in 2020. They will have identification or attire indicating they are a surveyor. 

Practical Preservation will also include in the report background research and context of Bellevue’s history.

How will data be collected?

The baseline data (tax parcel number, address, approximate age, and type of building (residential/commercial) has been pulled from Allegheny County’s public access real estate database.  Representatives of Practical Preservation will perform a field survey on foot, which includes an exterior photo, validating, or estimated age of a building, it’s an architectural style and integrity.  Photos are used for identifying and validating architectural style. The data is collected in-app used specifically for field surveys.

Where can I find the data once it is collected?

The report and data will be provided to the Borough for their review and records, as well as to the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission, Allegheny County, and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. The report, after review may be made public on the Bona Fide Bellevue website for the benefit of the community. Property owner data is not included in the report. 

A public presentation by Bona Fide Bellevue summarizing the report will be made in 2021 or 2022 after the report is received and reviewed.

I don't want to participate / I want to opt-out

The PA State Historic Preservation Office and Bona Fide Bellevue insist that any consultants abide by all property lines and only conduct surveys from legal, public spaces. As such, there is no way to opt-out of this data collection, however, no private information is necessary or used for this survey to be performed.


When was this shared with the public?

A press release was sent out in June 2019. Local newspapers The Trib and The Citizen picked up the story. The Mayor and Chief of Police were informed in January 2020 that ALL properties would be surveyed at ANY point in 2020. We received an acknowledgment and no further conversation was generated. We are not aware of any communication made from the borough to the public. 

This question was submitted by a Bellevue resident.

What qualifies a property as historic without surveying?

While this is largely open to individual interpretation, general consensus is that age, architectural style, and integrity and/or a place of a significant event or person in history. Our third party consultant will be developing these definitions based on their expertise. 

This question was submitted by a Bellevue resident.

I'm concerned this project will produce too much information on properties.

All information or data collected is already publicly accessible. Additionally, our work is not being used for gentrification purposes or raising taxes.

This question was submitted by a Bellevue resident.

Will a report be made available for download?

Yes! The full report can be viewed here. The video of the public presentation is also available at the bottom of this page.

All content found within the report is based on publicly accessible data on the county website. On this site, you are able to look up who owns a property, a photo of the property, and other detailed information.

This question was submitted by a Bellevue resident.

Historical Districts limit renovations to private property and require permits. An inflated price tag frequently goes along with historical renovation.

Having your property recognized and listed on the National Historic Register does not protect or provide any limitations to those properties. Typically, if any limitations are placed it is due to a facade easement or a local historic preservation ordinance. National Historic Districts are expensive, multi-year projects to undertake.

Creating a National Historic District is NOT nor was ever included in the scope of this project. 

Generally speaking, forward-thinking municipalities invest in historical property surveys. This survey will comprehensively establish Bellevue’s historic property assets. Having a total and clear understanding of our assets will enable the borough or Bona Fide Bellevue to pursue further investment in our community via applicable state and federal grants.

This question was submitted by a Bellevue resident.

Is photographing my house from public property (like the street) legal?

Photographing your property from public property is legal. Our consultant will only be taking photos from public property. 

Please review this page at ACLU PA to learn more about taking photos in public.

Expert Photography on Street Photography


Community Development & Non-Profit Terms

Historic Preservation – Our nation’s history has many facets, and historic preservation helps tell these stories. Sometimes historic preservation involves celebrating events, people, places, and ideas that we are proud of; other times it involves recognizing moments in our history that can be painful or uncomfortable to remember.

Source: The National Park Service

Housing Authority – an independently run and autonomous, not-for-profit public corporation. which works in conjunction with local governments and agencies to develop long-term housing strategies for communities.

Indirect Displacement – refers to changes in who is moving into the neighborhood as low-income residents move out, and occurs when units being vacated by low-income residents are no longer affordable to other low-income households. This is also called exclusionary displacement since future low-income residents are excluded from moving into the neighborhood. 

Source: The Uprooted Project

Inclusion – an organizational effort and practices in which different groups or individuals having different backgrounds are culturally and socially accepted and welcomed, and equally treated. These differences could be self-evident, such as national origin, age, race and ethnicity, religion/belief, gender, marital status, and socioeconomic status or they could be more inherent, such as educational background, training, sector experience, organizational tenure, even personality, such as introverts and extroverts.

Source: Global Diversity Practice

Income Inequality – the extent to which income is distributed unevenly among a population.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Lobbying vs. Advocacy – Advocacy is when nonprofit organizations advise stakeholders, legislators, or citizens on their own behalf to affect some aspect of society integral to the nonprofit’s mission. All nonprofits can advocate for measures that will affect their mission or the health and well-being of their clients. Lobbying is when one seeks to influence legislation.

Source: The Foundation for Enhancing Communities

Resources – Resources can be tangible (e.g., money, computers, staff, volunteers) or intangible (e.g., motivation, in-kind services, actions).

Source: Alison Education Company

Revitalization – The goal of neighborhood revitalization is to improve communities in a way that makes a lasting impact on the quality of life of its residents.

Source: Habitat for Humanity


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