National Preservation Awards 2008


Medium-sized image unavailable for this photo.
The dome of the West Baden Springs Hotel was the
world's largest when it was built in 1902.

Credit: Chris Smith

Every year the National Trust for Historic Preservation honors activists and organizations whose work shows unflinching commitment to preservation. "We look for innovative, collaborative projects that can be used as national models—and just good, solid preservation work," says Valecia Crisafulli, director of the Center for Preservation Leadership, which oversees the awards. "But no matter how stellar the architecture, these projects would not have happened without committed people."

Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award
The national preservation movement's highest honor goes to two accomplished individuals:

Jane Blaffer Owen, New Harmony, Ind.
Residents and visitors have Jane Blaffer Owen to thank for turning New Harmony, the site of two 19th-century utopian villages, into a thriving community. Since the 1940s, she has helped preserve virtually every historic structure in the National Historic Landmark town, including the 1776 Double Log Cabin. Additionally, the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation, created by Owen nearly 50 years ago in honor of her father, funds many of New Harmony's projects and programs. Owen views her life's work in New Harmony (pop. 870) as "not just the preservation of a few historic buildings," but "the preservation of the best of the American spirit." —Gianna Palmer

Mark Michel, Albuquerque, N.M.
When Mark Michel helped found the Archaeological Conservancy in 1980, he had no idea he'd still be the organization's president nearly 30 years later. "It's a thrill," Michel says of his job. The conservancy is the only national nonprofit committed to acquiring and preserving archaeological sites in the United States; it owns more than 325 endangered locations. During Michel's ­tenure, the organization has added regional offices, grown its membership to 23,000, and launched a magazine, American Archaeology. "It's tremendously satisfying to know that part of our nation's history is being preserved because of what we do," Michel says. —G.P.

Honor Awards

William, Gayle, and Carl Cook

The Cook family, successful medical device manufacturers from Bloomington, Ind., restored and reopened the 1901 French Lick Springs hotel and 1902 West Baden Springs hotel, both National Historic Landmarks. During the costly and difficult restoration, the Cooks added a casino to the French Lick, which has decreased local unemployment by nearly seven percent. Nominators note that the impact of the project on the community "cannot be overstated."

Washington Mills Building No. 1, Lawrence, Mass.
A sprawling textile mill in this historic manufacturing community has been reborn as much-needed housing. "Lawrence was a ripe environment for renewal," says Kara Cicchetti, project manager for the Architectural Heritage Foundation, which spearheaded the rehab along with Banc of America CDC. Today the brick building contains 155 apartments, including 16 affordable housing units, with soaring ceilings and 14-foot-tall windows.

Open since 2007, it is filled nearly to capacity. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) describes the project as "catalytic" for the revival of Lawrence. As proof, other renovations are in the works: "It's growth coming from a grass-roots vision," says Cicchetti. —Hannah Lepow

?TWA Corporate Headquarters in ?Kansas City, Mo.

Credit: el dorado archtiects
TWA Corporate Headquarters Building, Kansas City, Mo.

TWA may have disappeared from the nation's hangars and runways, but the corporation's early headquarters building survives. Following a $15 million restoration, the sleek 1956 structure—crowned by a replica of the Moonliner II rocket—is now home to a local advertising agency. Green design elements were used in the rehab, including rooftop gardens to control runoff, and windows that make heating and cooling more efficient. "It's a good example of making the bones of an older building work with contemporary design," says David Dowell, principal at El Dorado Architects, which directed exterior work. Landscaping and street furniture make the project more sensitive to the surrounding Crossroads Arts District, and developer Brad Nicholson gave $100,000 to help buy work by local artists for display in the building. —Krista Walton

Union Station, Springfield, Ill.
The 1898 terminal closed in 1971 and languished until the mid-1980s, when a developer forestalled demolition and converted the building to retail space. In 2005, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency partnered with Downtown Springfield, Inc. and other local groups to restore the terminal. Now, after a $12.5 million project, the stunning Romanesque Revival structure looks as it did at the turn of the last century, down to the reconstructed 110-foot-high clock tower with terra-cotta and copper flourishes. (The original was demolished in 1946.) "The project was challenging, but all of the contractors really acted like craftsmen," says Anthony Rubano from the preservation agency. "To see the pride that the people had while on the project—for me, that was the most wonderful part." The station is now the visitors center for Springfield's Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. —K.W.

Additional Honor Awards were given to:

Eldridge Street Synagogue, New York City It took 20 years and $20 million to restore this 121-year-old landmark. Now called the Museum at Eldridge Street, it brilliantly chronicles Jewish religious life on the Lower East Side.

Roma National Historic Landmark District Visitors' Center and Plaza, Roma, Tex. The exemplary renovation of the 1848 plaza should spark further historic rehabs in Roma, a National Historic Landmark District.

Oak Court, Dallas The renovation of this late-1950s modernist house, designed by Edward Durell Stone, seamlessly blends modern amenities with the architect's original plan.

Arkansas State University's Arkansas Heritage SITES ASU, one of the few schools to offer a Ph.D. in preservation, has rehabbed three museums and established two National Scenic Byways in the Arkansas Delta through its Heritage SITES program.

Partners for Sacred Places, Philadelphia Founded in 1989, Partners for Sacred Places is the only national nonprofit promoting community use of historic and at-risk religious buildings.

Ford Assembly Building, Richmond, Calif. Thanks to Orton Development, Inc., Albert Kahn's long-neglected 1931 automobile factory has been revived, and now houses environmentally conscious companies and a public entertainment venue.

Pasadena City Hall, Pasadena, Calif. After more than a decade of effort, the city restored this 1927 Spanish-Mediterranean building into a seismically strengthened, LEED-certified building with a gold rating.

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, Colo. This nonprofit has used research and education to inform a diverse audience about preserving the Mesa Verde region's archaeological and cultural resources.

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, Franklin, Tenn. The foundation has played a crucial role in local planning through resource identification, streetscape enhancement, and the purchase and rehabilitation of endangered properties.

Kansas Army National Guard, Topeka, Kan. By partnering with the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office to protect landmark armories, this National Guard unit exemplifies the potential of federal agencies to identify and preserve cultural resources.

U.S. General Services Administration, Center for Historic Buildings, Washington, D.C. GSA's Modern-Era Buildings Initiative is a groundbreaking program developed to devise policy for heritage buildings constructed in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. 

Special Honor Awards

As part of its 2008 National Preservation Awards, the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented the following special-category awards:

John H. Chafee Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy

Andrew Potts, Washington, D.C.

Attorney Andrew Potts has contributed immeasurably to shaping public policy for historic preservation, at both local and federal levels. His law practice largely focuses on the use of the historic tax credits to finance revitalization projects. Potts regularly advises preservation groups about how to take advantage of the credits. When the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation held the 2006 Preserve America Summit, Potts led the discussion on using historic properties as economic assets. He also serves as a pro-bono counsel to the National Trust and numerous other organizations.

Trustees Awards for Organizational Excellence

Gifford Park Association, Elgin, Ill.

For the past 29 years, the Gifford Park Association has worked tirelessly to restore and preserve their historic town of Elgin. The grassroots organization is self-supporting and made up entirely of volunteers. One of the association's popular activities is its annual historic house tour, which attracts more than 2,000 visitors and 400 volunteers. This is only one of the many ways in which the group stimulates both local minds and the local economy. Other preservation groups have proclaimed the Gifford Park Association an excellent model to follow. "We do make mistakes," says association president Joe Kjellander, "but we keep trying and pushing."

National Trust/HUD Secretary's Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation

Curley School Project, Ajo, Ariz.

When the International Sonoran Desert Alliance proposed restoring the historic Ajo Curley School, many in the economically depressed, rural community scoffed. "There were some people in town who were very skeptical that a little nonprofit could actually do it," says alliance executive director Tracy Taft, "and a handful of people who didn't want apartments to bring in people from the outside." But the five year, $10 million project, which restored the 1919 building into 30 apartments—now called the Curley School Artisan Lofts—has proven a success. The units are rented to low- or medium-income artisans and their families, providing space for both living and working.

National Trust/ACHP Award for Federal Partnerships in Historic Preservation

V-Site Restoration Project, Los Alamos, N.M.

The story of the development of the atomic bomb stands as a significant part of our recent past, and yet is often shrouded in mystery. But the organizations who carried out this project have lifted part of that veil by restoring the buildings the nuclear device was assembled. Known as the V-Site, these structures had been hastily abandoned in 1945, so when the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Atomic Heritage Foundation decided to restore the site, they faced a bevy of challenges. Working from 1944 blueprints, restoration professionals re-used older materials in the buildings where possible, adding non-visible modern elements. The project has been praised as an example of a collaborative effort led by a federal agency that engaged many organizations, both public and private.

"The Mangoes," Henry Ford's winter retreat in Fort Myers, Fla.

Credit: Edison & Ford Winter Estates

The Trustee Emeritus Award for Excellence in the Stewardship of Historic Sites

Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Fla.

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford aren't the only innovators associated with this place. When the $10 million restoration began in 2001, the nonprofit organization that owns the estates realized their project could be enlightening for all. Instead of closing work sites, which included seven buildings and 10 acres of gardens and walkways, the staff made them part of the public tour of the estates. These areas remained open throughout the five-year process, allowing visitors to witness and learn about the restoration. The Edison Estates, originally opened in 1947, purchased the neighboring properties of Henry Ford in 1989. Like their former occupants, the staff here is always thinking ahead. "This award is so very important to us," says estates president and CEO Chris Pendleton, "because it shows our strong commitment to preparing the site for future generations." Some of the continuing efforts even incorporate green initiatives. Ford and Edison would be proud.