Rural Heritage Pilot Programs

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Rural Heritage Development Initiative

The RHDI is a multi-year project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and local partners. The purpose of this program is to demonstrate the value of heritage-based rural development through 5 main themes:

  • Preservation Education
  • Farm and Farmland Preservation
  • Local Business Development
  • Heritage Tourism
  • Image Development and Branding

These key elements are addressed in several ways, including maintaining agricultural land use, adaptive reuse of farm buildings, finding new markets for local produce and crafts, education in preservation economics, and the development of additional regional preservation partners. Two locations have been chosen to pilot this program, the Central Kentucky Heartland and the Arkansas Delta. In Kentucky, the target area is comprised of eight primarily rural counties. The Central Kentucky Rural Heritage Development Initiative is coordinated by a regional field representative, Amy Potts, who works with Preservation Kentucky, the Southern Field Office of the National Trust, and the National Trust Partnerships Office.

Martinsville, Virginia

Another multi-year rural heritage development program, funded in part by the Harvest Foundation and the Public Welfare Foundation, aided the town of Martinsville, Virginia and surrounding Henry County. To complete this project, the Southern Field Office worked closely with Main Street, the Martinsville and Henry County Historical Society, the Tourism Office, the Rivers and Trails Group, the City of Martinsville, Henry County, and local residents.


  • Creation of an Architectural Review Board
  • Completion of a Martinsville Uptown Retail Market Analysis and Roundtable
  • Courthouse Square Facade Program, a pro-bono design program to visualize the revitalization of Courthouse Square
  • Creation of four Historic Districts
  • Completion of a Heritage Tourism Inventory
  • Henry County Courthouse Plan of Use Study