When I was growing up there, preservation was really only something for a few eccentric elites. We had baseball, and a hard-working middle class. Who needed preservation?! Fortunately, a few progressive thinking folks led the cause, and today, Williamsport's preserved neighborhoods are a huge part of it's draw.
Williamsport, PA lies on the Susquehanna River. At the turn of the 20th century, Williamsport was in its hey day, primarily with lumber. It was known as "the Lumber Capital of the World" and once had "more millionaires per-capita than anywhere else in the world."
The exteriors of the homes are beautiful, but the insides are... TO DIE FOR. Being the "Lumber Capital of the World" the homes boast exquisitely paneled walls; beautifully carved stairs handrails and balusters; and details galore, all done in every imaginable softwood and hardwood available. Artisans abounded too! Stained glass, stone work and carvers had plenty of work. The heads of companies were house proud and valued art for the sake of art alone, in addition to showing off their wealth.
By the 1970's, many of the beautiful old homes had been hacked up and turned into housing for the nearby community college. Understandably, it was purely an issue of supply and demand. The millionaires had all moved on, and these homes were no longer valued for their architecture, but rather were viewed only as energy-consuming behemoths. And the only way to feed a behemoth was to cut it up into affordable apartments to squeeze out as much monthly income as possible.
Fortunately, since then, Williamsport has wised up and seen the value of restoring many of these homes. Most were done by private individuals who had a passion for the past (and great architecture), but many of the success stories were made possible by City and State incentives, and especially an understanding of the Economic Development value to be had by way of tourism. In fact, the tourism industry in Williamsport is doing so well now, that it has recently be rated one of the fastest growing cities in the US, with 7.8 % growth rate.
Though there are many factors that contribute to this growth rate, one is that the City has valued it's history and capitalized on it through Preservation.
Without further adieu, allow me to present some of the homes that have been preserved.