FORUM 2018: A Preservation Caucus welcomed over 700 attendees from 45 states and numerous countries. Held in Des Moines, Iowa this past July, FORUM offered a wide variety of educational sessions and discussion panels, mobile workshops and tours. An opportunity to network and re-unite with fellow preservationists, FORUM also served as the venue for NAPC’s Commission Excellence Awards ceremony. Presented on a biennial basis, these awards recognize and honor outstanding efforts and achievements by local preservation, historic district, and landmark commissions as well as boards of architectural review.
The award ceremony took place at FORUM’s widely attended Opening Plenary, where featured speaker, Mary Means, held a captive audience. The visionary who launched the Main Street Program, Means has been a leader in place-based community development, helping communities capitalize on their historic character. Heading a national practice from Mary Means + Associates for over 30 years, she has built bridges between plans and people at an unusually wide range of scales – from large heritage regions, to cities, to neighborhoods, and even a few white elephant historic buildings.
The NAPC Awards Committee reviewed an excellent group of nominees this year, carefully selecting five winners for their exceptional accomplishments. Three organizations were honored with the Best Practices Award for Public Outreach and Advocacy, including the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission in South Dakota, the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission in Washington State, and the Waverly Historic Preservation Commission in Iowa.
Best Practices: Public Outreach and Advocacy
Brookings Historic Preservation Commission took the initiative to partner with other organizations to highlight the city’s history and historic buildings and demonstrate shared goals. By partnering with the Brookings Sustainability Council, for example, the Commission has been able to demonstrate how historic preservation is an integral part of the sustainability movement. The Commission members actively seek positions on affiliated committees, such as the Comprehensive Master Plan Committee and Public Arts Committee. This outreach demonstrates a keen understanding that preservationists must be “at the table” if they are to promote historic preservation as an integral part of local public policy.
Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission particularly stood out for its social media outreach activities undertaken in conjunction with its mid-20th century modern architectural survey. With a social media strategy planned from the inception of the project, the Commission understood the importance of engaging the public in this effort if it was to build awareness of and support for protection of these sometimes-under-appreciated historic resources.
Waverly Historic Preservation Commission seized the opportunity afforded by Iowa’s Flood of 2008 to survey and document Waverly’s historic resources and pursue National Register status for four historic districts as well two individual structures. The Waverly Historic Preservation Commission recognized that a natural disaster can bring into focus what is important in a community and harnessed the interest of local residents in Waverly’s heritage as well as the support of a receptive city council to move forward with National Register designation.
John and Sue Renaud Award for State Leadership to Advance Historic Preservation at the Local Level
Paula Mohr, Architectural Historian and CLG coordinator for the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office, received the John and Sue Renaud Award for State Leadership to Advance Historic Preservation at the Local Level. Ms. Mohr previously held curatorial and preservation positions at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the White House and the National Park Service. She also served as the Curator of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., where she was responsible for the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark and its museum collection. In 2005, Ms. Mohr returned to Iowa and began working in her current position, where she directs the local preservation program. Deb Andrews, NAPC’s Awards Chair, praised Ms. Mohr’s “boundless passion for history and architectural history” as well as her commitment to community preservation.
Daniel Becker Professionalism Award for Municipal Leadership
Lisa Craig, Director of Resilience with Michael Baker International, received the Daniel Becker Professionalism Award for Municipal Leadership. Ms. Craig also serves as a trainer for the NAPC Commission Assistance and Mentoring Program and is Chair of the Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Committee of the US International Committee on Monuments and Sites. Ms. Craig served for seven years as Chief of Historic Preservation for the City of Annapolis. She was selected by the awards jury because of her energetic leadership in spearheading the Weather It Together initiative, a Cultural Resource Hazard Mitigation Plan identified by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a national model for resiliency planning.
Ms. Craig and Ms. Mohr, along with representatives from the commissions in Iowa, South Dakota, and Spokane attended the conference to graciously accept their hard-earned awards. The Opening Plenary also served as an opportunity to recognize three students in the field of historic preservation, who received scholarships to attend the conference. Among the recipients were Kathleen Seay (Goucher College), Melanie Bishop (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago), and Victoria Hensley (Middle Tennessee State University).