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Group photo at the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Awards2016 Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards

Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown of Goshen were recipients of the 2016 Memorial Award presented by the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation and Kentucky Heritage Council during the foundation's 38th statewide historic preservation awards ceremony May 25 at the Governor's Mansion. The awards recognize investment, advocacy, volunteerism, building partnerships, public involvement, lifelong commitment and significant achievement.

The Memorial Award is presented to those who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of historic preservation in the Commonwealth. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Brown were cited for their vision as creators of 21c Museum Hotels, which have been established in rehabilitated, historic commercial buildings in Lexington, Louisville and elsewhere and garnered national and international attention for their innovation and hospitality.

Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards are presented each May during National Historic Preservation Month. 2016 also marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act and the founding of the Kentucky Heritage Council. The awards are named for Ida Lee Willis, widow of former Gov. Simeon Willis at the time she was appointed first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now the Kentucky Heritage Council) in 1966.

Preservation Project Awards recognize outstanding examples of rehabilitation or preservation of historic buildings, or other types of projects that have had a significant impact on Kentucky’s built environment or historic or prehistoric places:

  • The 1857 Boutique Hotel, Paducah, and owners Paul Gourieux and Jorge Martinez, for their vision to see the potential in two historic buildings that had been vacant for decades, one even slated for demolition;
  • Ouerbacker Mansion, Louisville, for being beautifully and thoughtfully restored per the Secretary of the Interior Standards by Oracle Design, despite the building being severely neglected;
  • Potter’s Castle, Bowling Green, and owners Steve and Patsy Morgenthaler, for their painstaking and detailed rehabilitation of a classic Queen Anne Victorian, one of Bowling Green’s most iconic historic residences.

Right: Governor Matt Bevin presents a proclamation declaring May National Historic Preservation Month

Governor Matt Bevin presents a National Historic Preservation Month proclamationService to Preservation Awards honor those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to historic preservation, had a positive impact on preserving historic or prehistoric resources through advocacy or education, or developed innovative or model preservation programs:

  • Gudrun Allen and Jennifer Tijou of Pleasanton Goods, Paris, for demonstrating how rehabilitation of a building that had suffered decades of neglect can be completed for a reasonable amount of investment; 
  • Bernie and Susan Hunstad, Danville, for their purchase of Third Street Methodist Church and their willingness to take on an abandoned historic building that had many challenges and put the building back into use;
  • Jack Jouett Archaeology Project, Versailles, for creating a unique public archaeology project open to anyone regardless of ability, and for educating the public about how artifacts expand our understanding of historic places;
  • Scot Walters, Frankfort, retired KHC Site Development Program manager, for a career spent in public service and for his personal and professional commitment to educate people about the importance of preservation and good community design.

Grassroots Preservation Awards honor individuals who have committed their personal time and resources to take on a challenge that addresses preservation of historic resources at the local level. 2016 recipients were:

  • Mayor Scott Madon of Pineville, for seeing a need and taking action, and for his leadership in establishing an aggressive movement to clean up and revitalize the downtown and generate new enthusiasm and economic upturn;
  • Shirl Marks of Stamping Ground, for preserving Stonetown Haven, her family's historic home dating to the early 1800s, and for her work researching and preserving African American history and heritage in Scott County and central Kentucky.

High-resolution group photo, above [JPEG-439KB]

List of all winners 1979-current [Word - 68KB]


The National Historic Preservation Act turns 50!

Preservation 50 logoPassed 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.

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 [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ], a campaign to promote the anniversary and events going on in various states throughout next year. Visit [External Link - You are now leaving the .gov domain. ] 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

Preservation Works: Historic Preservation Projects and Case Studies booklet coverPreservation Works

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.Morris Fork Community Center, Breathitt County

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


See the updated KY Historic Properties Survey Form and instructions
Learn more about Historic Preservation 101 for Real Estate Professionals, Weds., Aug. 17, 10a.m.-2:30 p.m. in Shelbyville
Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards
2016 Award Tributes
Steve Wilson and Laura Lee Brown
1857 Boutique Hotel
The 1857 Boutique Hotel, Paducah
Ouerbacker Mansion
Ouerbacker Mansion, Louisville
Potter's Castle
Potter's Castle, Bowling Green
Pleasanton Goods
Gudrun Allen and Jennifer Tijou, Pleasanton Goods, Paris
Third Street Methodist Church
Bernie and Susan Hunstad, Danville, Third Street Methodist Church
Jack Jouett Archaeology Project
Jack Jouett Archaeology Project, Versailles
Scot Walters
Scot Walters, Frankfort, retired KHC Site Development Program manager
Scott Madon
Scott Madon, Mayor of Pineville
Shirl Marks
Shirl Marks, Stamping Ground, for Stonetown Haven [Photo courtesy Lexington Herald-Leader]
Economic impact of historic preservation by Congressional District
1st District
2nd District
3rd District
4th District
5th District
6th District


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KHC agency brochure
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External Links
Some of the links on this site may resolve to non-governmental agencies. The information on these pages is not controlled by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council or the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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Last Updated 7/26/2016