Preservation In-Progress

The Historic Harrisburg Resource Center, formerly Central Trust Building, is an ongoing preservation project for the Historic Harrisburg Association.  The restoration started with the donation of the building to HAA in 1993 by Pennsylvania National Bank “for preservation as a community resource and architectural landmark.”

Projects completed have included:

  • Replacement of the roof, accomplished through a pilot community project involving inmates from the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.
  • Painting of all exterior trim, also completed by the inmates of SCI-Camp Hill.
  • Upgrades to meet fire and panic requirements, including smoke and fire alarms, exit upgrades and emergency lighting.
  • Addition of a handicapped-accessible ground-floor restroom.
  • Creation of a catering kitchen, named in 1995 in honor of Historic Harrisburg volunteers Paul Blust and Ron Sheaffer in recognition of their many hours of work on the building.
  • Removal of two levels of suspended ceiling above the Main Banking Hall, revealing a long-hidden grand skylight, decorative ceiling, mezzanine windows and other architectural details designed in 1929 by Lawrie & Green, and painting of the walls, all accomplished by volunteers.
  • Renovation and reconfiguration of the rear of the main floor in 1999, through a grant from the Greater Harrisburg Foundation, to create a much-used all-purpose “Community Room.”
  • Refurbishment in 2011 of the entire second floor, now leased as headquarters of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, including two former bank board of directors’ meeting rooms which now serve as PDC executive offices.
  • Refurbishment of the twin banking executive offices flanking the entrance vestibule, for use by HHA staff, accomplished in 2013 through donations from David Morrison and the Mary Sachs Trust, for whom the rooms are now named.
  • Replacement of the Community Room lighting in 2016 and related refurbishments.
  • Refurbishment of the front and rear entrances in 2016, through a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, including lighting upgrades, restoration of the front portico and signage, and renovation of the rear entrance vestibule and stairwell.
  • The most recent project, restoration of exterior brownstone and brick masonry which was completed in 2017

FINAL PHASE OF RESTORATION:

A final – and the most major – phase of restoration will be the refurbishment of the skylight, ceiling and lighting of the building’s main banking hall, described below.

The restoration of the skylight and decorative ceiling elements will transform the Resource Center into a prominent and praiseworthy example of historic preservation – a creative and adaptive re-use of a surplus building that gives inspiration to others. Once fully restored, the Historic Harrisburg Resource Center will be poised to achieve the following goals:

  • Building rentals, by private citizens and businesses, will increase, generating sufficient income to sustain the entire cost of building operation. A tremendous demand for such facilities is presently unmet.
  • The increased “traffic” generated by private rentals will have a beneficial impact on numerous Historic Harrisburg missions including public education, increased visitation of the surrounding shops and businesses, and a heightened popularity of historic properties and city destination for private entertaining.
  • The potential to develop the Resource Center as a visitors’ destination, in conjunction with other historic and retail sites, will likewise increase.
  • Activities of the numerous other community organizations using and sharing the Resource Center will achieve higher potential for success, visitation and income.
  • Historic Harrisburg’s own expanding calendar of education and community activities will directly benefit from the achievement of restoration work that is consistent with Historic Harrisburg’s well-known standards of design excellence.

All of these potential achievements will lead to Historic Harrisburg’s corporate goal of long-term self-sufficiency as an organization, while allowing the Resource Center to serve as a successful urban gathering space for other non-profit community organizations.

By providing attractive and functional facilities for educational activities, community lectures, historical and fine art exhibitions, civic meetings, and daily drop-in visits, and by serving as a high-profile anchor for the ongoing Third Street economic renaissance, the restored Historic Harrisburg Resource Center will be able to make an even greater contribution to the quality of life and the economic vitality of the Capital Region.

SKYLIGHT RESTORATION:

Obscured in the early 1950s by modem acoustical ceiling tiles, the monumental skylight is a dramatic architectural focal point of the building. Its restoration would achieve three purposes:

  • Correction of a serious architectural and historic flaw in the building’s otherwise pristine interior architecture;
  • Enhancement of natural lighting
  • Enhancement of the marketability of the space for income-producing receptions and events

Restoration of the skylight system is essential to the continued health of the building. The decorative plaster ceiling has suffered general degradation due to having been covered and neglected for over 60 years along with attendant water damage. Professional plaster restoration will be needed as a part of the project.

RESTORATION OF HISTORIC GLASS PANEL SKYLIGHT:

  1. Remove, clean and repair existing glass lay-in ceiling panels in main banking hall. Provide additional glass panels to match existing to restore entire lay-in ceiling to a complete system.
  2. Demolish and remove from site existing HVAC ductwork and its accessories that have been abandoned within the glass ceiling panel area.
  3. Repair decorative metal cross sections that have been damaged by prior HVAC installation.

RESTORATION OF PLASTER CEILING:

  1. Demolish and remove from site existing ceiling tiles.
  2. Scrape off loose plaster and glue. Remove ceiling light fixtures (16 fixtures). Remove electrical conduit and wires to switch, and terminate conductors and install blank cover plate.
  3. Repair ornamental plaster on south wall approximately 8 feet long and one section approximately 29 square feet that is currently water damaged on cross beam.
  4. Repair and replace the existing plaster scratch and veneer coats of entire flat work ceiling area.

INSTALLATION OF APPROPRIATE LIGHTING

This will include 10 period chandeliers to be purchased and installed in the 10 locations, which clearly accommodated such fixtures in the past, as well as special backlighting behind the skylight, to give efficient and effective lighting during evening and nighttime events (During the building’s use as a bank, nighttime activities were never envisioned).

NAMING OPPORTUNITIES AND WALL OF HONOR:

The following opportunities for donor recognition are offered:

  • Main Banking Hall (multi-function event and gallery space): $100,000
  • Front Vestibule (Main Entrance Area): $15,000
  • Central Trust Vault (Historic Harrisburg Library and Archives): $5,000
  • Merchants’ National Vault (Historic Harrisburg Resource Shop): $5,000
  • South Corridor (“Bare Wall Gallery” exhibition space): $5,000
  • Susquehanna Street Entryway, Vestibule and Stairway: $5,000
  • Wall of Honor: Contributions of $3,000 or more, payable at once or over a five-year period ($600 per year or $50 per month via automatic paypal deduction) will be recognized on HHA’s Wall of Honor.

For more information contact David Morrison at 717.233.4646 or director@historicharrisburg.com.

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