WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New Philadelphia Closer to National Park Designation

May 5, 2014

The U.S. House passed a measure to explore whether the New Philadelphia town site should become a unit of the National Park System. 

Atlas Map of Pike County 1872
Credit Andreas, Lyter Co., 1872, 84. / Illinois Historical Survey Collections, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

New Philadelphia located within Pike County, Illinois was the first town built by an African-American. It was founded by Frank McWorter in 1836.  

Sandra Washington with the National Park Service says the site was deemed nationally significant during a preliminary study in 2010.

But the service needs to decide whether New Philadelphia meets the other criteria for new national parks.

  • Is it a place that visitors can readily understand and access and enjoy?
  • It is an area that can be managed without putting any visitor services on the site as to avoid diminishing the integrity of the site?
  • Is the National Park Service necessary because no one else is able to do the job?

Washington says it could take up to three years to answer those questions. Ultimately Congress would decide whether the site should become a unit of the National Park System.

U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois sponsored the legislation. The measure still needs to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Barack Obama.

New Philadelphia was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 2005 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.