Lehigh Valley Landmarks Trust: Preserving the Past to Build a Better Future

The past lives alongside the present in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. With a rich history dating back hundreds of years, the region is home to a number of culturally-significant landmarks, including historic buildings, farms, parks and more. Over the years, some of these pieces of history have fallen into neglect and are in danger of being lost—but one new local organization is determined to intervene.

The Lehigh Valley Landmarks Foundation is committed to restoring, preserving and operating culturally-significant buildings, land and other community assets in the Lehigh Valley region. By saving these vestiges of history, the organization hopes to protect the Lehigh Valley’s culture and foster opportunities for education and community connection. Each completed restoration project is estimated to impact more than 1,000 residents and visitors every year.

The organization was founded by Brooke Mitman Rivera; her mother Antonia B. Mitman, a historian who worked for 40 years as preservation consultant; Nathanael J. Rivera, Brooke’s son, who works in sustainable development; R. Benjamin Rivera, employed in the hospitality industry; and Brett Webber, AIA, a historic preservation architect. From a young age, Brooke learned to appreciate the value of community involvement and cultural preservation from her family. 

“I grew up in a family business in Historic Easton, PA, and watched my parents and grandparents serve our community in many ways. My mother [Antonia B. Mitman] began Historic Easton, Inc. in the late 1970s to begin to save our city from devastation begun by urban renewal in the 1950s. She was a grassroots organizer and saved many historic properties, including the 1926 Beaux Arts State Theatre in Easton,” Rivera said. “After moving back to the Lehigh Valley in 2012, I began work in the non-profit sector and saw the need for economic development via life-giving projects, cultural arts education, training/employment in the trades/hospitality to provide an improved quality of life for our residents and opportunities to create additional destinations for regional, national, and international tourism. All of our venues will be pay-as-you-can, so everyone is welcomed/invited and able to participate regardless of circumstances.”

The Lehigh Valley Landmarks Foundation’s first project will be restoring the Historic Forest House Inn at 1700 Butler St. in Wilson Borough/Easton, PA. The founders aim to identify and address more landmarks in need throughout the region as the organization grows. 

“We will restore our region’s neglected landmarks and engage people in education and doing good work—that is number one. This work will impact residents and visitors to our region—as well as America and the world—as we respect our history and create a future together, so everyone can know how to live, learn, work and play together in love and peace,” Rivera said.

To learn more and support the Lehigh Valley Landmarks Foundation, please click the link below.