The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced winners of this year’s annual Certificate of Merit competition. These awards are presented each May during National Preservation Month. Since 1975, THC’s Certificate of Merit Program has recognized exemplary work by individuals, groups, organizations, corporations, or governmental entities to further promote historic preservation or the study of history in Tennessee. Nominations are solicited from the public in December of the preceding year and judged by category.
The Historic Preservation category recognizes excellence in the preservation, restoration, or rehabilitation of a historic or archaeological site, preservation leadership, preservation planning, publications related to historic preservation, public programming, or research. 2021 awards in this category go to:
- Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton, for the historic paint finishes study, funded by a Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grant, that confirmed much of the Carter Mansion’s exposed interior surfaces are rare and irreplaceable original 18th century finishes.
- Claiborne County Historical Society in Tazewell, for completing a multi-phased restoration of the 1819 Old Jail with HPF grant funds.
- Dunbar Rosenwald School Foundation in Loudon, for using a HPF grant and rallying community partners to restore the roof and siding on a 1923 African American school building.
- John H. Allen Company in Jackson, for rehabilitation of the neon-lit landmark Art Moderne Greyhound Bus Station using Historic Tax Credits.
- Kemmons Wilson Companies, Bologna Consultants, Bounds and Gillespie Architects, and LRK Architects in Memphis, for using Historic Tax Credits to rehabilitate a 1914 railroad station with appropriately designed restaurant and gathering spaces.
- Walk-Off Properties, LLC and LRK Architects in Memphis for the rehabilitation of the 100,000 square foot 1924 Medical Arts Building, now known as The Commonwealth, for use as retail space with apartment and office spaces above, using Historic Tax Credits.
- Perry County in Perry County, for using HPF funds to clear invasive trees, vines, and lichen that threatened the structural integrity of the limestone battered walls that comprise the Historic Cedar Grove Furnace and Spring House.
- Friends of South Cumberland State Park near Tracy City, for creating a new interpretive area that tells the story of the village that housed nearly 200 members of the Civilian Conservation Corps Company 1475 at Grundy Forest.
- Camille Westmont, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at the University of the South in Sewanee, for archaeological research conducted at Grundy Lakes coke ovens in South Cumberland State Park and the site of the Lone Rock Stockade, where Lone Rock prisoners burned coal in the ovens to produce coke used in ironmaking.
- Timothy Henson in Adams, for the preservation publication, the Adams Enterprise, which has documented local history for a quarter century.
- Sam Hall in Chattanooga, for the digital preservation publication, ChattanoogaHistory.com, which provides access to rarely accessible historic resources.
The Book or Public Programming category recognizes notable achievements toward advancing the study of Tennessee history through certain types of books or public programming. The sole award recipient in this category is the Sgt. Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall, for restoring the York farm and creating “Living History” public programming that interprets the roles of agriculture, industry, isolation, and poverty on the residents of the Wolf River Valley.
The Commissioners’ Special Commendation category recognizes achievements that relate to the promotion of historic preservation or history, but do not satisfy all the criteria for a Historic Preservation Award or a Book or Public Programming Award. 2021 awards in this category go to:
- Steven Smith in Soddy-Daisy, for authoring four books, establishing the Soddy, Daisy, and Montlake Historical Society and the Good Old Days Museum, and for his leadership in the annual Pioneers Day event at the reconstructed Poe’s Tavern.
- Taylor Weiss in Dickson, for making the Governor Clement Centennial Birthday Celebration a public and financial success during the pandemic.
- The Mel Malone Family Historical Foundation in Cemetery, for their effort to preserve and restore the Cemetery Community, which includes the original Cemetery Elementary School and Malone Homestead.
- Ann Toplovich in Nashville, for her role in preserving Tennessee history and service as Executive Director of the Tennessee Historical Society.
To learn more about the high level of achievement recognized by THC’s Merit Award program or download an application and submit a nomination for the 2022 competition, go to https://www.tn.gov/historicalcommission/about-us/merit-award-program.html or contact Susan McClamroch at firstname.lastname@example.org.