Nominations are now being accepted for Kentucky’s most distinguished awards honoring excellence for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings, and cultural and archaeological sites. Presented annually since 1979, the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards ceremony will take place this May in Frankfort during National Historic Preservation Month.
The awards are named for Kentucky’s first state historic preservation officer and recognize contributions to preserving our collective heritage at the local level and throughout the Commonwealth 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).
Awards are presented in four categories, and all nominations must be received in the KHC office or postmarked by Friday, April 20. Guidelines, nomination form, submittal instructions and more about previous recipients are available at www.heritage.ky.gov.
Preservation Project awards honor outstanding examples of rehabilitation, restoration and adaptive reuse including, in 2017, a former lumber mill in Covington converted into a community placemaking hub, a Paducah Coca-Cola Plant restored to its former Art Deco glory, the painstaking rebuilding of iconic Rabbit Hash General Store following a fire, and a former Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Paris converted to apartments and retail.
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. In 2017 these included a Midway couple honored for their hands-on rehabilitation of multiple family homes, two Lexington neighborhood associations documenting their African American heritage, and the annual University of Kentucky Historic Preservation Symposium.
The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Award goes to the individual who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of historic preservation in the Commonwealth. Last year, Linda Bruckheimer of Bloomfield was recognized for more than two decades of preservation philanthropy, investment and advocacy.
Grassroots Awards are given at the selection committee’s discretion and honor those who have committed their personal time and resources to successfully take on a challenge that addresses a preservation issue at the most fundamental level, such as, in 2017, a Mt. Washington youth group that preserved a historic limestone mile marker and a Johnson County man who extensively restored an all-wood vernacular frame structure.
The memorial foundation was chartered in 1979 to honor the late Ida Lee Willis, the first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now Kentucky Heritage Council). Current board members are Stephen L. Collins of Shelbyville, chair; William Averell of Frankfort, vice chair; Barbara Hulette of Danville, secretary; Robert Griffith of Louisville, treasurer; and Christopher J. Black, Paducah; Marion Forcht, Corbin; Jolene Greenwell and Charles W. Stewart, Frankfort; Alice Willett Heaton, Bardstown; David L. Morgan and Charles Parrish, Louisville; Donna Horn-Taylor, Springfield; and Milton and Anne Thompson, Washington, D.C.