PLEASE NOTE: KHC offices have moved to the Barstow House, 410 High Street, Frankfort, KY 40601. Our phone number, 502-564-7005, and office hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., remain the same.
Annual Statewide Historic Preservation Awards to be handed out May 30
Nominations have now closed for the Annual Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards, so watch here for an announcement soon about 2017 winners! The invitation-only ceremony will take place May 30 during National Historic Preservation Month.
Presented in three categories, the awards are named for Kentucky’s first state historic preservation officer and recognize contributions to the preservation of Kentucky’s heritage via personal commitment, investment, advocacy, volunteerism, building partnerships, public involvement, lifelong dedication or significant achievement. The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation hosts the event in partnership with the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC), this year with special thanks to Nana Lampton.
The Preservation Project category honors outstanding examples of restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings or sites. Service to Preservation awards recognize individuals, organizations, nonprofits, public officials, financial institutions, news media, volunteers and others whose contributions have had a positive impact in their communities. The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Award goes to the individual who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of historic preservation in the Commonwealth.
In 2016, awards went to a boutique hotel in Paducah, extensively deteriorated but architecturally significant homes in Louisville and Bowling Green, a church in Danville, the mayor of Pineville, a community activist from Stamping Ground, a public archaeology project at the Jack Jouett House in Versailles, local business owners in Paris, and KHC’s retired Site Development Program manager. Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown of Goshen were co-recipients of the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Award for their creative concept of 21c Hotels. (At right are 2016 award recipients in front of the Kentucky Governor's Mansion)
The memorial foundation was chartered in 1979 to honor the late Ida Lee Willis, widow of former Gov. Simeon Willis and first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now the Kentucky Heritage Council).
About Ida Lee Willis
The annual statewide historic preservation awards are named for the late Ida Lee Willis, a former Kentucky first lady who was appointed first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now the Kentucky Heritage Council) in 1966. Under her direction, the agency began in earnest to survey the state, nominate sites to the National Register of Historic Places, award grants and promote preservation statewide.
Mrs. Willis was the widow of former Gov. Simeon Willis, and she was directly responsible for saving the historic Vest-Lindsey House in Frankfort (rendering below), an anchor in Frankfort's "Corner in Celebrities." The Vest-Lindsey House is one of nearly 40 homes that remain in the Corner in Celebrities, first described by Alice Trabue in her book of the same name, published in 1922.
In the opening paragraphs, Ms. Trabue explains that there is “…a quaint corner of the town from which have sprung, probably, more distinguished men than from any like area I the United States. Covering about four acres, bounded by four streets bearing the historic names of Washington, Wilkinson, Montgomery and Wapping, is the central group of some noble old houses which sheltered sires and sons whose deeds brought fame and ever lasting glory to Kentucky.” These include:
- Supreme Court justices John Marshall Harlan and Thomas Todd
- Nine United States Senators, including John Brown, first US Senator from KY
- Six Congressmen
- Eight Governors including Charles S. Morehead and John Jordan Crittenden
- Seven foreign ambassadors
- Three Navy Admirals
- And John Bibb, nationally prominent as a Senator, Secretary of the Treasury and Assistant Attorney General, who developed Bibb lettuce in the back yard of his Wapping Street home.
The Vest-Lindsey House (above left) was home of a long-time early Kentucky Congressman, George Graham Vest, who is best remembered for his closing trial arguments in an 1870 lawsuit over a man’s killing of his neighbor’s dog. In his famed “Tribute to a Dog” speech, Vest coined the well-known phrase “Dog is man’s best friend.” In 1846 the house was sold to prominent attorney and state legislator Thomas Noble Lindsey, whose son, Daniel Weisiger Lindsey, was adjutant general and inspector general in charge of all Union Army forces in Kentucky.
The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation was chartered in 1979 to honor Mrs. Willis for her efforts in helping preserve Kentucky’s historic and archaeological resources. Sally Willis Meigs is her daughter, and she continues her mother’s legacy with her service on the foundation board. A line drawing of the Vest-Lindsey House serves as the foundation's logo.
Kentucky Main Street Program communities contributed $110M to economy in 2016
The Kentucky Main Street Program (KYMS) recently announced that 39 participating communities reported cumulative investment of $109,741,515 in their commercial downtown districts in 2016, a number that includes $75,070,029 of private investment matched by $30,920,494 in public improvements. This total was up significantly from the $76 million of cumulative investment reported by 44 communities in 2015.
Administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC), Kentucky Main Street is the oldest statewide downtown economic revitalization program in the nation, based on the National Main Street Center (NMSC) Four-Point Approach® emphasizing organization, promotion, design and economic vitality. Since the program’s inception in 1979, KYMS can document more than $3.9 billion of public-private investment throughout the Commonwealth.
The revitalization statistics were announced during the KYMS Winter Meeting Feb. 15-16 in Frankfort, which began with an advocacy day at the Capitol, where local directors displayed exhibits about their programs and met with legislators. The day concluded with both House and Senate floor resolutions, introduced by Rep. Chad McCoy of Bardstown and Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson, respectively, which were adopted in each chamber by voice vote. Pictured here are the directors gathered with Sen. Webb (front row, 3rd from right) on the floor of the Senate chamber
According to the resolutions, “Kentucky Main Street is at its core a self-help program, locally administered and funded through private investment partnered with public support, which achieves success by addressing a variety of issues that face traditional business districts and re-establishing downtown as the community’s focal point and center of activity.”
In addition to statewide investment numbers, the resolutions also noted that in 2016, Kentucky Main Street communities reported:
1,452 new jobs created in Main Street districts
234 new businesses created
81 new housing units in downtowns
198 building rehabilitation projects completed
$51,433,241 invested in historic building rehabilitation
On Thursday, directors met at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet building to hear program updates and special guest speakers, including presentations on bicycle and pedestrian projects and Tax Increment Financing.
Also on Thursday, KYMS Administrator Kitty Dougoud announced that 29 communities have achieved accreditation for 2017 as certified by both Kentucky Main Street and the National Main Street Center. These are Bardstown, Bellevue, Cadiz, Campbellsville, Carrollton, Covington, Cynthiana, Danville, Dawson Springs, Frankfort, Guthrie, Harrodsburg, Henderson, LaGrange, London, Maysville, Morehead, Murray, New Castle, Paducah, Perryville, Pikeville, Pineville, Princeton, Shelbyville, Springfield, Taylorsville, Williamsburg and Winchester. Accredited programs have met all of the 10 performance standards set forth by NMSC.
Affiliate programs have met at least five of the 10 accreditation standards, and Network programs are those in the beginning phases of the program or in some form of transition. Those earning Affiliate status are Marion, Paintsville, Scottsville, and the Tri-Cities program including Benham, Cumberland and Lynch; and Network programs are Dayton, Middlesboro, Nicholasville and Wayland.
Annual reinvestment statistics are collected from all participating Accredited, Affiliate and Network communities.
“The economic and community impact of the Kentucky Main Street Program has been particularly dramatic in rural and small towns across the Commonwealth,” said Regina Stivers, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet of Tourism, Arts and Heritage. “By helping preserve historic resources unique to each community, focusing on small businesses, and creating a halo effect that encourages additional investment, the program supports the cabinet’s mission of improving quality of life and enhancing opportunities for heritage tourism.”
Kentucky Main Street’s mission is to prioritize the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings as the framework supporting downtown revitalization and economic development strategies. Participation requires local commitment and financial support, with a Main Street director to administer the program in partnership with a volunteer board. In turn, KHC provides technical and design assistance, training and educational opportunities, on-site visits, a resource center, national consultants and grant funding, when available.
For more about Kentucky Main Street, visit www.heritage.ky.gov/mainstreet or contact Kitty Dougoud, 502-564-7005, ext. 127.
Media outlets are invited to contact your local Main Street program director for information about reinvestment statistics in your community.
||Thanks to all who supported the Oct. 14 Preservation Trailblazers celebration
Thanks to our partner Liberty Hall Historic Site and all the other sponsors and presenting organizations who made our Preservation Trailblazers event Oct. 14 such a success! Great to see so many old friends and preservation supporters gathered in downtown Frankfort to celebrate the 50th anniversary of KHC and the National Historic Preservation Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 15, 1966.
Co-sponsored by KHC and Liberty Hall Historic Site (LHHS), special thanks go to the Trailblazer Sponsor, the Owsley Brown II Family Foundation, and Landmark Sponsors, The Kentucky Chapter of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America and the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. The event is also presented in partnership with the Kentucky Historical Society, Preservation Kentucky, Kentucky Main Street Program, Kentucky Division of Historic Properties, University of Kentucky College of Design Historic Preservation Program, Preservation Louisville, Passport Radio, Downtown Frankfort, Inc. Main Street, Franklin County Trust for Historic Preservation, Frankfort Transit and Frankfort Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites.
Thanks especially to all of our speakers, including our esteemed Preservation Trailblazers panelists: David Morgan, retired long-time state historic preservation officer; Steve Collins, KHC chair; Edie Bingham of Louisville, an advocate for preservation and education at the forefront of several important preservation milestones; Chuck Parrish, first KHC staffer and retired historian with the Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Dick DeCamp, first executive director of the Blue Grass Trust and head of Lexington’s first historic commission; Betty Dobson, grassroots preservationist whose efforts helped save Paducah’s Hotel Metropolitan; Keith Runyon, Metro Louisville Historic Preservation Advisory Task Force co-chair and Preservation Louisville spokesman, representing Christy Brown; Jim Thomas, long-time executive director of Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill; Barbara Hulette of Danville, a tireless advocate and fundraiser; Dr. Alicestyne Turley, director of the Carter G. Woodson Center and Assistant Professor of African and African American studies at Berea College; David Cartmell, Maysville mayor; Nash Cox of Frankfort, local historian and past president of LHHS; Dr. John Kleber, historian and editor of the “Kentucky Encyclopedia,” among others; and Dr. Patrick Snadon, associate professor of architecture and interior design at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of “The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe.”
We had a wonderful day and hope you did too! This celebration was a positive way to reenergize the historic preservation movement and get everyone excited as we head into the next 50 years of championing historic preservation throughout the Commonwealth.
2016: The National Historic Preservation Act turns 50!
Passed in 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act was landmark legislation that came about as a response to destructive urban “renewal” policies and the widespread construction of interstate highways cutting swaths through the American landscape. The NHPA established a leadership role for the federal government to protect and preserve our nation’s historic buildings and paved the way for the establishment of state historic preservation offices, including KHC.
So what was going on in 1966? "Bonanza" was the most popular show on television, "Thunderball" with Sean Connery as James Bond was the most popular movie, Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was the most popular song, and transistor radios were what passed for high-tech listening devices.
Mass-produced housing was booming, the construction of interstate highways was cutting swaths of destruction through the American landscape, and historic buildings and neighborhoods were being leveled in cities across the country as urban "renewal" policies were implemented in an effort to address blight and suburban flight.
The wholesale loss of these historic resources sparked a grassroots effort among citizens to seek a new and more comprehensive approach to preservation. In 1965, a special committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the White House and several members of Congress produced a report and plan of action, ""With Heritage So Rich."
This report laid the foundation for federal government intervention, and the National Historic Preservation Act was passed into law and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 15, 1966. For the first time, federal law defined a comprehensive government role in preservation policy, leadership and program responsibility, and also provided a federal-state framework by creating a means for state historic preservation offices to be established to help implement this policy.
The legislation also established the Section 106 process requiring federal agencies to take into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties; created the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, an independent federal agency to advise the President and Congress; and set up the National Register of Historic Places. Later amendments extended this framework through the Certified Local Government Program, which encourages local governments to seek designation in order to more effectively address historic preservation and planning.
The Kentucky Heritage Commission was created by the state legislature not long after, and in the 1980s the name was changed to the Kentucky Heritage Council. It is not an understatement to say that our Commonwealth would look very different today without the work of this agency.
It's funny to consider that in 1971, the first statewide survey of "historic" sites in Kentucky was completed, consisting of a mere 1,951 buildings - mostly the high-style architecture that one would expect. Today we are approaching a database of nearly 100,000 surveyed historic sites, including archaeological deposits, places associated with Kentucky's African American and Native American heritage, battlefields, schools, churches, rural hamlets, houses of every type, and historic downtowns in communities of all sizes - among many other diverse resources.
As an agency, the Kentucky Heritage Council has a lot to celebrate in 2016. Watch here for frequent updates about upcoming events and highlighting successful initiatives.
The National Park Service has created Preservation 50 , a campaign to promote the anniversary and events going on in various states throughout next year. Visit www.preservation50.org  for more and also to download a prospectus about what you can do to commemorate and bring attention to this important anniversary in your own community.
The Preservation Payoff
Each year the Kentucky Heritage Council compiles information about the impact of historic preservation in each of Kentucky's six Congressional districts. These data sheets (at right) quantify the financial and cultural value that KHC programs such as rehabilitation tax credits and the Kentucky Main Street Program generate in economic investment back into communities. This information is presented both cumulatively (statewide) and by district, and a rehab tax credit project in each district of particular interest is highlighted.
Please use these to help illustrate the economic and cultural impact that historic preservation programs are having in your community!
In 2012, Annville Institute in Jackson County was listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Does your legislator, local elected official, family member, friend or neighbor want to know more about historic preservation? Would you like to learn about how current preservation projects across the state are creating jobs, attracting private investment, generating tax revenue, promoting environmental sustainability, contributing to community planning and improving our quality of life? Then check out Preservation Works! Historic Preservation Projects and Case Studies [PDF - 976KB], produced by the Kentucky Heritage Council. For a hard copy, email Vicki Birenberg, CLG and Planning Coordinator, or call 502-564-7005, ext. 126.
... to the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office website. Our mission is to identify, preserve and protect the cultural resources of Kentucky. Heritage Council staff administer all state and federal historic preservation and incentive programs in Kentucky, including the National Register of Historic Places. Sixteen Kentucky Heritage Council members from every geographic region are appointed by the governor to serve four-year terms.
The Heritage Council is repository of a priceless assemblage of survey forms, maps, photographs and other images in its unique archival collection of inventories of historic structures and archaeological sites across the state. Our rural heritage is well represented in all of our programs including the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a partnership with the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology, which promotes the preservation of archaeological sites and educates the public about archaeology and the importance of site protection.
The Heritage Council seeks to build a greater awareness of Kentucky's historic places and to encourage the long-term preservation of Kentucky's significant cultural resources.
||Recent Kentucky Heritage Council Press Releases
- September is Kentucky Archaeology Month; public events will highlight research, site preservation, American Indian and pioneer technologies
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Several public archaeology programs are planned in September, which Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed Kentucky Archaeology Month to recognize the professional practice of archaeology and how this work has helped unearth a more complete understanding of the history of the Commonwealth.
- Kentucky Heritage Council Strong Towns Conference Sept. 24-25 will explore new approaches to community growth, development; online registration open
Friday, July 31, 2015
A two-day conference exploring strategies for community growth and development based on 21st-century challenges will take place Sept. 24-25 in downtown Louisville. While many communities continue to focus on a post-World War II model of suburbanization, the Strong Towns approach maintains that to be successful, citizens and community leaders must adopt a new way of thinking about the future.
- 3 new employees join State Historic Preservation Office
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Three new employees have joined the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC), the agency has announced.
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