Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Mumford, Ellis Miller (2013). The Social Effects of Preservation: Social Wellbeing and the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program in Philadelphia. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis was intended to begin to fill in a gap in preservation literature by beginning research in Philadelphia and evaluating how, if at all, historic preservation affects social wellbeing. By considering tax credit investment alongside various statistical measures of social wellbeing in Philadelphia census block groups, this study tested some hypotheses about the power of preservation in community revitalization. The primary hypothesis tested is that historic preservation activity improves social wellbeing in Philadelphia. More specific hypotheses include:

  • Historic preservation improves the physical appearance of neighborhoods.
  • Historic preservation reduces crime, especially building-specific crime such as arson and graffiti.
  • Historic preservation preserves affordable housing.
  • Historic preservation creates more educated communities.
  • Historic preservation creates more walkable and transit-friendly communities.
  • Historic preservation encourages more private and public investment.

Identifying and analyzing the social benefits of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program may provide another tool for preservation advocates to use when making the case for preservation planning in their community. If this thesis can prove that there is a demonstrable link between historic preservation and whole community revitalization, then preservation will likely play a more vital role in city planning and economic development plans.


historic preservation, social wellbeing, philadelphia, rehabilitation tax credit, quality of life



Date Posted: 25 February 2014