Indiana Landmarks will present the annual Servaas Memorial Awards for achievement in historic preservation and the Williamson Prize for outstanding individual leadership in historic preservation on Sept. 14 at the organization’s annual meeting in Indianapolis.
The Williamson Prize for outstanding individual leadership in preservation goes to Jean Gernand of Huntington. “Jean has been a driving force in advocating preservation of Huntington’s most important historic buildings for decades. Without her, the city’s historic downtown would not be as rich in character as it is today,” says Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis, who will present the award.
For more than four decades, Jean Gernand has worked to raise awareness of Huntington’s heritage, building partnerships to save character-defining landmarks including the Chief Richardville House, the Hotel LaFontaine, Horace Mann School, and two historic houses.
In the 1970s, she helped form local preservation organization Huntington Alert, working to educate the community by organizing slide shows, writing newspaper articles, and coordinating home tours. In 1981, Gernand rallied with other citizens to save the vacant 1925 Hotel LaFontaine, forming a nonprofit that devised a plan to turn the landmark into senior apartments. The group recruited service clubs, businesses, and city officials to lend their vocal and financial support for the hotel’s preservation and secured a $2.5 million HUD loan for the project. Now one of the crown jewels of downtown, the hotel’s transformation earned a National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Williamson Prize includes a $1,000 cash award and the Williamson Prize sculpture by Evansville artist John McNaughton. The award is named in honor of Reid Williamson, president of Indiana Landmarks from 1973 to 2005. Under his leadership, Indiana Landmarks created regional offices, and grew in membership, staff, and endowment.
Former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard, Indiana Landmarks’ honorary chairman and head of the awards panel, will present the Servaas Memorial Awards at the same event. The awards recognize preservation achievement in non-profit and youth-serving categories. Winners receive cash prizes and a Servaas sculpture, also created by John McNaughton.
Richmond Columbian Properties (RCP)receives the Servaas Memorial Award in the nonprofit category, along with $2,000. Since 2012, RCP has hosted discussions about preservation, reinvestment, and rehabilitation at its Quality of Place Conference each September, tackling important topics including blight elimination and preservation’s economic impact. Recordings of the talks are available on the group’s website, which also includes histories of Richmond’s National Register-listed historic districts, and links to self-guided walking tours showcasing the city’s architecture.
Along with educating the community, RCP has shown a willingness to tackle abandoned and neglected buildings in its own backyard in Richmond’s Starr Historic District. The organization owns the 1885 William G. Scott House, where it hosts workshops, special events, and community gatherings. Rental income from events held at the house fuels the property’s ongoing restoration and upkeep.
The organization also developed a rehabilitation plan for North 10th Street, using a loan from Indiana Landmarks to buy an Italianate-style house at 209 North 10th and making repairs before selling it to a preservation-minded buyer. Just down the street, RCP used its influence to convince a local bank to forgive a loan on a historic duplex and donate the property to Indiana Landmarks, which partially rehabbed the property before putting it back on the market.
“We’ve tried to put preservation in the mainstream of community planning and be an example by preserving and protecting one of the most important buildings in the Starr Historic District,” says Matt Stegall, an RCP board member, who will accept the $2,000 Servaas Memorial Award.
Friends of the Peters-Margedant House wins the Servaas Award in the youth-serving category for its work to engage the next generation in preservation and history, recruiting students in its efforts to save Evansville’s Peters-Margedant House. Built in 1934 by Frank Lloyd Wright’s apprentice William Wesley Peters, the compact house served a family of six in its early years. Today the house provides an engaging space for students and the community to discuss Peters’ design and housing legacy.
The Peters-Margedant House landed on Indiana Landmarks’ 10 Most Endangered list in 2014, setting in motion a plan to move the tiny home for use as a learning lab at the University of Evansville. Now restored, the house hosts regular guided tours. This year, a semester-long course will challenge college students to figure out how to equip the house with self-guiding tour technology. Adam Green, a member of the friends group, will accept the Servaas sculpture and $1,000 prize.
“It’s really the type of architecture that appeals to children of all ages,” notes Dr. Heidi Strobel, curator at the house. “For the elementary students, it’s on their scale. For students heading to college who are environmentally engaged and like the idea of leaving a small footprint, it resonates with them as well.”
Mindi Woolman, Director of Marketing and Communications, Indiana Landmarks, office 317-639-4534, cell 317-417-1204, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Gernand, 260-388-4836
Matt Stegall, Richmond Columbian Properties board member, 765-962-9526, email@example.com
Jim Renne, Friends of the Peters-Margedant House member, 812-449-4989, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
Stay up to date on the latest news, stories, and events from Indiana Landmarks, around the state or in your area.