EBENSBURG – Ebensburg Borough is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to a press release from the borough, the historic district nomination was recently approved by the National Park Service for the list, which is the nation’s official index of properties that are recognized for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and/or culture.
National Register properties can include districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that are significant to a local community, state, Native American tribe or the nation as a whole.
Ebensburg’s period of significance dates back 162 years, to 1799.
The borough’s distinct eras include the period from 1799 to 1850, when Ebensburg’s early settlement and its importance was established as a Pennsylvania Turnpike route, securing its position as a center of commerce and service for travelers along an east-west route.
From 1850 to 1915, Ebensburg saw the completion of railroads, railroad-era tourism and the rise and impact of the automobile, while from 1915 to 1961, the borough saw rebuilding after several devastating fires and adjusted to automobile-oriented commerce, which changed travel and spending habits until the opening of the Route 22 downtown bypass in 1961.
The district is bounded roughly by Highland Avenue, West Street, Sugar Street and Triumph Street. It includes 422 contributing and 161 non-contributing buildings and sites.
Buildings that contribute to the historic district retain integrity and their form and/or architectural details reflect their construction during the 1799-1961 period of significance.
Buildings with materials that have changed, but without altering the overall design, still contribute to the historic district. The non-contributing properties were either constructed after 1961, or have been altered to an extent that they no longer reflect their historic appearance.
Previous to the borough-wide designation, Ebensburg had three buildings on the register, including the Cambria County Courthouse, the former Cambria County Prison and The Noon-Collins Inn.
“The historic nature of Ebensburg Borough is one of the many positive aspects of the community that helped our family decide to move here in 2002,” said Doug Tusing, president of Ebensburg Borough Council.
“Thanks to the hard work of borough staff and many dedicated volunteers, we can all be proud that Ebensburg has now been nationally recognized for its historic significance. This designation should prove to be a useful tool with regard to further economic development and increased local tourism.”
Efforts to establish a national register historic district began in the late 1990s under the direction of local resident, Dr. John “Jack” Coleman.
Coleman served as Professor Emeritus at St. Francis University, where he taught history for 40 years, and was past president of the PA Historical Association and Cambria County Historical Society.
When Coleman fell ill, the nomination process was put on hold.
Borough staff and officials revived the process a few years ago, with the help of interested local residents, including Dave Huber, president of the Cambria Historical Society, and Gina Tusing, who both volunteered their time for months to help put together a needed inventory of properties.
“We could not have achieved this distinction without the help and support from many volunteers who championed our cause and saw this process through to the end,” said Danea Koss, Community Development Director.
The National Register of Historic Places program is administered by the National Park Service. In Pennsylvania, the program is managed by the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office, which is a bureau within the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
Under federal law, the listing of a property on the National Register places no restrictions on what an owner may do with their property up to and including destruction, unless the property is involved in a project that receives federal assistance, usually funding or licensing/permitting.