Regarding the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Section 106 Review for the Second Floor Expansion Project

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has offered the National Museum of Industrial History, in Bethlehem, PA, an Infrastructure and Capacity Building grant (CHA-290121) to complete a renovation of the second floor of their museum.

NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. This public notice is issued as part of NEH’s responsibilities under 36 C.F.R. Part 800, the regulations which implement Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, 54 U.S.C. 306108. NEH, a funding agency, is required by regulation to identify and assess the effects of any proposed actions on historic properties. If any proposed action will have an adverse effect on historic resources, NEH works with the appropriate parties to seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any adverse effects. Additionally, the Section 106 regulations require NEH to consider the views of the public on preservation issues when making final decisions that affect historic properties.

The project site 602 E. 2nd Street, Bethlehem PA 18015-1522. The building was formerly the Electrical Shop of the Lehigh Plant of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. Constructed in 1913, the building features an overhead crane built by Bethlehem Steel that was likely installed in the mid-1930s. The second floor of the building covers 20,000 square feet. A now removed double doorway at the western end of the building once connected it to the former Bethlehem Steel Plant office building. the building is within the South Bethlehem Downtown Historic District (National Register of Historic Places #05001500) but is not a contributing building. The interior of the building has been remediated and substantively modified. The building is within the South Bethlehem Downtown Historic District (National Register of Historic Places #05001500) but is not identified as a contributing building.

The proposed project involves interior renovation and infrastructure upgrades to create exhibit space, administrative and collections workspace, event space, a catering kitchen, and bathrooms. The scope of work includes:

  1. Expanding the existing mechanical rooms, including replacing the original 3-inch-thick tongue and groove wood subfloor with new concrete flooring for code. The concrete will be poured atop corrugated metal decking visible from the floor below.
  2. Installing/upgrading the HVAC system and ductwork
  3. Adding additional plumbing for water and sewer
  4. Upgrading the electrical upgrades
  5. Creating new rooms and an overhead mezzanine accessed via two Walls will be metal stud, drywall construction.

In a letter dated March 15, 2023, Emma Diehl, Environmental Review Division Manager, for the State Deputy Historic Preservation Office, indicated that the project would have no adverse effect. Based on a review of the project and the SHPO’s recommendation, NEH has determined that project will have no adverse effect on historic properties.

As required by Section 106, NEH is providing the public with information about this project, as well as an opportunity to comment on any knowledge of, or concerns with, historic properties in the proposed project area, and issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties. Comments may be submitted to the NEH by e-mail to [email protected]. The deadline for submitting comments is April 28th, 2023.