The 2021 National Preservation Awards are being presented this week at PastForward 2021 Online. The awards honor inspirational projects, individuals, and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in the field of preservation.
Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award
The Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s highest recognition. Named for one of the National Trust’s founding trustees, the award is made with the greatest care and only when there is indisputable evidence of superlative achievement in the preservation and interpretation of our historic, architectural, or maritime heritage.
Patricia O’Donnell | Charlotte, Vermont
A nationally and internationally recognized landscape architect, Patricia O’Donnell’s pioneering work over the past 40 years helped to establish the field of cultural landscape preservation in the United States and has continued to expand it by combining scholarship with the holistic stewardship of public places.
In 1987, O’Donnell founded her pioneering firm, Heritage Landscapes, which has completed over 600 cultural landscape preservation planning and implementation projects. Her portfolio includes hundreds of places listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 40 National Historic Landmarks, and eight World Heritage Sites. Her designs go beyond ecology and aesthetics, emphasizing how spaces must address access, inclusion, and environmental and social justice.
O’Donnell is a visionary mentor and, as one of her peers shared, a “pioneering conversation starter.” Her work with the National Park Service has set national standards for how we steward the layered richness of our cultural landscapes, and she played key leadership roles in the creation of both the documentation-focused Historic American Landscapes Survey and The Cultural Landscape Foundation, an advocacy-focused nonprofit. O’Donnell’s current focus on climate change action, sustainability, accessibility, and inclusion demonstrate that she continues to be a powerful force for innovation in her cultural landscape practice.
Patricia O’Donnell is the first landscape architect recognized with the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award in its more than 60-year history.
Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Awards, the nation’s most coveted and prestigious, are bestowed on historic preservation efforts that demonstrate excellence in execution and a positive impact on the vitality of their towns and cities. Read more about this year’s Driehaus awardees in the fall issue of Preservation magazine.
Moynihan Train Hall | New York City
Primary Recipients: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Co-recipients: Empire State Development; Vornado Realty Trust; The Related Companies; Skanska; MTA; Long Island Rail Road; Amtrak; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Severud Associates; Jaros Baum & Bolles; Schlaich Bergermann Partner; Building Conservation Associates, Inc.; Systra Consulting, Inc.; Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Inc.; Domingo Gonzalez Associates; Pentagram/Mijksenaar USA; Cerami & Associates; Thornton Tomasetti/Weidlinger Protective Design Practice/Ducibella Venter & Santore; Van Deusen & Associates; Higgins Quasebarth & Partners; BNP Associates, Inc.; Billings Jackson Design; WSP; Peter Pennoyer Architects; Rockwell Group; Watson & Co.; Code Consultants Professional Engineers, PC
Moynihan Train Hall joins New York City's Pennsylvania Station with the landmark James A. Farley Post Office, formerly New York City’s largest post office. More than 50 years after the demolition of McKim, Mead & White's original Pennsylvania Station, the adaptation of the historic Beaux-Arts Farley building into Moynihan Train Hall reestablishes the lost grandeur of rail travel for riders on the Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak, and subway. The $1.6 billion renovation offers the city a generous new public space and adds critical infrastructure to support the surrounding neighborhood, relieves overcrowding, makes the station accessible to all passengers, and transforms the way millions of people will interact with one of the world’s largest cities.
Milwaukee Soldiers Home | Milwaukee
Primary Recipients: The Alexander Company, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
Co-recipients: Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Milwaukee VA; Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office; National Equity Fund; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Center for Veterans Issues; JP Cullen; Ramlow/Stein; Wisconsin Veterans Museum; Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority; Greater Milwaukee Foundation; U.S. Bank; Federal Home Loan Bank; National Park Service; Home Depot Foundation; Location Initiatives Support Corporation; City of Milwaukee Community Development Grants Administration; Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation; Mueller Communications; Foley & Lardner; Baker Tilly
The Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District is the most intact remaining soldiers home in the country. In 2011, The campus was nominated to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list by Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, sparking a partnership between local, state, and national preservation groups that began to meet regularly alongside an Advisory Council of veterans and related organizations to explore preservation solutions.
Following a 10-year preservation effort, six historic buildings in the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District have reopened to provide housing for homeless veterans. An Enhanced Use Agreement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, The Alexander Company, and the Milwaukee Housing Authority has created a mutually beneficial partnership that revitalized the Milwaukee Soldiers Home and met a community need, while generating income for the federal government. This pioneering and impactful rehabilitation was made possible by committed Section 106 consultation, sustained public engagement, strong advocacy, and creative public/private partnerships.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library | Washington, D.C.
Primary Recipients: DC Public Library
Co-recipients: Mecanoo Architecten; OTJ Architects
Designed by pioneering modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the 400,000-square-foot Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library opened in 1972 and is the city’s first memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By the early 2000s, disinvestment in the aging traditional library system and the growing notion of its functional obsolescence brought calls for the library’s closure and relocation. Thanks to the efforts of historic preservation activists, the library received landmark status in 2007, ending possibilities of demolition.
The city-owned landmark has now undergone a stunning modernization, including 100,000 square feet of additional public space. The result is a building that carefully balances the need to preserve iconic Miesian elements with the desire to provide exciting new spaces, programming, and services that redefine the library experience for District residents in the 21st century.
American Express Aspire Award
The American Express Aspire Award recognizes emerging preservation leaders who demonstrate innovative thinking and achievement in advancing historic preservation in their local, state, or national communities.
Jordan Ryan | Indianapolis, Indiana
Jordan Ryan is an architectural historian, archivist, and scholar. Through their interdisciplinary and inclusive approach to preservation, Ryan’s work raises the visibility of the built environment of marginalized communities in Indianapolis. They recently founded the consulting firm The History Concierge, where they offer services such as research, programs and tours, exhibit curation, archiving, digitization, oral histories, and other scholarly and creative writing projects. Previously, Ryan has held a variety of cultural resource management and museum positions, and recently managed an architectural archive and large Indianapolis-based collections project. They have a master’s degree in public history from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and a bachelor’s degree in art history from Herron School of Art and Design. Their scholarship revolves around the built environment, urban planning, historic preservation, marginalized communities, hostile architecture, and LGBTQ historic sites.
The National Trust/Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Award for Federal Partnerships in Historic Preservation
This award, presented in partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, honors a project or program in which a federal agency and one or more non-federal partners, including tribes, have together achieved an exemplary preservation outcome.
Black Officers Club, Building 2101 | Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
Primary recipients: U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood
Co-recipients: NAACP, Pulaski County Chapter; Countee Family; Missouri Preservation; Missouri State Historic Preservation Officer; US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineer Research and Development Center; Construction Engineering Research Lab (ERDC CERL); US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Kansas City District and Fort Leonard Wood Area Office
Building 2101 at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri was built in 1941 and designated as the Black Officers Club for the seventh engineering training group, a place of respite for African American officers. The property is one of the last standing Word War II-era black officers clubs. While stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee, a nationally known artist, painted a prominent mural in Building 2101.
The rehabilitation of Building 2101, now dedicated as Staff Sergeant Samuel A. Countee Hall, was completed in 2019 after a successful Section 106 historic preservation review that involved a coalition of local, state, and national advocates, and the Countee family. As part of this process, Countee’s original mural was carefully restored and reinstalled with a glass, climate-controlled enclosure. The transformed multi-use facility now includes classroom, meeting, and event space, and is open for public visitation.
Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence
The Trustees' Award for Organizational Excellence recognizes a nonprofit organization, large or small, that has demonstrated sustained and superlative achievement in historic preservation.
WeGOJA Foundation | South Carolina
The WeGOJA Foundation, formerly the South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation, provides support to further the mission of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission (SCAAHC) to identify and promote the preservation of African American sites, structures, and culture in South Carolina. In 1993, only 36 African American historic sites in the state had markers or were on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, thanks to the efforts of WeGOJA, more than 300 sites have been commemorated, officially recognizing the contributions African Americans made in building South Carolina.
In addition to its advocacy work, the WeGOJA Foundation has developed essential publications, resources, and programs, including a teacher’s guide for K-12 students, a guide for African American entrepreneurs working to preserve rural heritage and culture, a digital mobile guide to African American historic sites and cultural attractions across South Carolina called “The Green Book of South Carolina,” and an innovative oral history initiative capturing the African American experience during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
WeGOJA has been a model organization that has offered leadership and inspiration far beyond the borders of South Carolina. Its exemplary work has had ripple effects, encouraging similar educational efforts at other state governments and nonprofits across the nation.
Read about a recent exhibition installed by WeGOJA.
Trustees Emeritus Award for Historic Site Stewardship
The Trustees Emeritus Award for Historic Site Stewardship recognizes success and innovation in historic preservation, management, and programming at historic sites.
China Alley Preservation Society | Hanford, California
In the 1970s, the all-volunteer nonprofit organization China Alley Preservation Society completed a stunning restoration of the Taoist Temple in Hanford, California, bringing it back to its 19th-century origins. Over the last 50 years, the organization has maintained and preserved the temple through its sustained use as a museum, tourism site, and place of worship. The restoration of the Taoist Temple catalyzed advocacy efforts by the Preservation Society to preserve the rest of China Alley, a short street featuring 11 historic buildings whose origins date back to 1877 when many Chinese immigrated to the area. Since then, the organization has acquired most of the other buildings in China Alley and continues to be the leading steward of the community.
In May, a fire broke out in the front staircase of the Taoist Temple, causing severe heat and smoke damage to the temple room and its artifacts on the second floor. Just weeks before the fire, the Preservation Society had given a tour of the Temple to Hanford Fire Fighters, meaning crews were already familiar with the layout of the building and the precious items inside when they responded to the call. Crews were careful with their use of water to contain the blaze, saving much of the historic fabric of the building and avoiding structural damage. While the building is stable, the fire caused severe heat and smoke damage to the temple room and its artifacts on the second floor. China Alley Preservation Society is spearheading the clean-up and conservation efforts to restore the Temple.
China Alley Preservation Society’s dedicated and proactive stewardship has ensured that the structures and cultural heritage of China Alley have been cared for and preserved for almost 50 years. Its care and vision continue to drive the revitalization and restoration of this important part of Chinese American history.
Learn more about supporting China Alley Preservation Society’s restoration efforts of the Taoist Temple here.
John H. Chafee Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy
The John H. Chafee Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy recognizes an individual or group of individuals who have done outstanding work in preservation advocacy.
U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06) | South Carolina
From his early activism in the Civil Rights movement and the NAACP to his distinguished career representing the Sixth District of South Carolina, Rep. James E. Clyburn has long advocated for the preservation of African American historic sites and has spent his career devoted to the advancement of equal rights for all citizens. Today, Clyburn is the highest-ranking Black lawmaker in the history of the Congress and currently serves as the Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Clyburn’s passion for historic preservation led to his becoming a principal supporter of the African American Civil Rights Grant Program to document, interpret, and preserve the sites and stories related to the struggle to establish equal rights for all Americans. Clyburn has also successfully advocated for increased funding for National Parks, National Heritage Areas, and the Historic Preservation Fund, which includes funding for Save America’s Treasures, underrepresented communities, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
To date, through Clyburn’s leadership, the Historic Preservation Fund has awarded more than $60 million in rehabilitation grants through the National Park Service to over 80 active Historically Black Colleges and Universities. His role on the National Advisory Council of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has bolstered the largest campaign ever undertaken to preserve and support historic places that tell the stories of African American achievement and activism.
Driven by the idea that history must tell the full story of our nation, Clyburn has introduced legislation to expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to include historic sites in South Carolina and National Park Service Affiliated Areas in other states.
Clyburn has dedicated his life to public service and through his leadership has amplified the voices of those working to tell the full story of our nation’s past.
Congratulations to all!
In 2022, we’ll be sharing more stories about these sites, people, and organizations and their incredible work in the field of historic preservation.
Know a project, individual, or organization that deserves recognition? Be sure to submit a nomination for the 2022 National Preservation Awards. Sign up for updates.