PHMC Highlights presents stories and information about PHMC programs, events, exhibits and activities.


It has been more than 50 years since the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO) was created. Over the past half century, PA SHPO has helped thousands of Pennsylvanians, municipalities and partners through state and federal historic preservation programs like the National Register of Historic Places, Historic Tax Credits, Pennsylvania Historical Markers, Keystone Grants, and Environmental Review.

In that time, PA SHPO’s work has produced a large and varied number of records. Staff review between 5,000 and 7,000 state and federal project submissions each year and has collected information about more than 200,000 historic and archeological properties across the commonwealth. PA SHPO also maintains thousands of files and reports related to the programs it administers. Until recently, this work generated a staggering amount of paper, which had to be physically processed through the office and then stored in an overflowing file room. Projects were tracked using different databases and spreadsheets, which meant searching for projects or property information in several different locations. Only a fraction of the information PA SHPO had collected since it was created was available online.

In February, PA SHPO launched PA-SHARE (Pennsylvania’s State Historic and Archaeological Resource Exchange), which integrates those disparate processes and records into one state-of-the-art program. PA-SHARE is truly a system for the 21st century and is the first of its kind for a state historic preservation office. It combines Esri’s powerful geographic information system (GIS) platform and custom-built project management software to make it easier — and faster — to find information about older and historic places, process project submissions, and utilize state and federal historic preservation programs.

PA-SHARE makes PA SHPO’s cultural resources data accessible, with more than 1 million scanned pages of information available online. A sophisticated search engine, coupled with measuring tools and almost two dozen GIS basemaps and layers, means users can utilize PA SHPO’s cultural resources data in new and interesting ways. For most of the historic preservation programs PA SHPO administers, PA-SHARE streamlines the application and review processes with online forms, real-time updates, and project tracking. Interactive mapping allows users to pinpoint a specific place, define a project area, or draw boundaries. The ability to upload spatial data, photographs, and files is also part of PA-SHARE’s functionality. For example, individuals interested in nominating a subject for a Pennsylvania Historical Marker can now easily submit the nomination through the online form and upload the supporting information instead of printing and mailing pages of documentation.

As a 21st-century system, PA-SHARE gives PA SHPO the ability to be more responsive to the opportunities and challenges it faces. As Pennsylvania navigates through the pandemic and its aftermath, PA SHPO can easily transition between in-person and telework so staff can continue to provide needed services to customers safely without interruption, and users can access the data they need remotely. As the nation strives to address climate change, PA-SHARE helps reduce the collective carbon footprint and be a bit kinder to the environment by reducing the amount of travel and paper needed to utilize resources and programs. And, as PA SHPO works to be fiscally responsible, PA-SHARE redirects financial resources from expenses like copiers, file folders, postage, and maintaining a large file room toward investments in PA-SHARE’s future.

PA-SHARE is a new online tool available to all Pennsylvanians to access the programs of PA SHPO. Learn more at

Shelby Weaver Splain is the education and outreach coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office.