Department of the Interior

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  Contact: Bruce J. Milhans 202-606-8513
For Immediate Release, May 2, 2005 DOI: Shane Wolfe (202) 208-6416
2005 Preserve America Presidential Awards Presented

WASHINGTON, DC-Four 2005 Preserve America Presidential Awards were presented at a White House ceremony today.

In the Heritage Tourism category, the two winners were:

  • Restoration of The Mount: Lenox, Massachusetts
  • Texas Heritage Trails Program: Texas

In the Privately Funded Preservation category, the two winners were:

  • Bolduc Historic Properties-Operational Enhancement: Sainte Genevieve, Missouri
  • Isaiah Davenport House Museum: Savannah, Georgia

The Mount, the 1902 country estate of renowned author Edith Wharton, is a National Historic Landmark that fell into such disrepair that it became an eyesore and embarrassment to the local community. Edith Wharton Restoration, Inc., purchased and gave new life to the estate through creative partnerships. In 2002, the estate reopened as a meticulously restored villa meeting high standards of historic renovation. Visitation has increased more than three-fold, and the economic impact has been substantial. An icon of American literary history has been resurrected to instruct and inspire future generations.

The Texas Heritage Trails Program epitomizes the Preserve America goals of creating economic development and educational opportunities at the local and regional level, while creating pride in heritage resources and winning widespread support for their preservation and interpretation. This Texas Historical Commission initiative markets 10 heritage-themed automobile tours as corridors and destinations for focusing regional tourism, and provides training and financial assistance to local communities for historic site development and conservation. Tourism has increased about 20 percent in participating communities.

The Bolduc Historic Properties Operational Enhancement project has increased visitation, economic viability, educational impact, community participation, and support for important remnants of a significant but under-appreciated aspect of national history. Bolduc Historic Properties maintains three houses in a French Colonial settlement along the Mississippi River that document and interpret the French experience in North America. Among them is the circa-1785 Bolduc House Museum, a National Historic Landmark that has been in the care of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri since 1950.

The Isaiah Davenport House Museum, dating from the 1820s, is an extremely significant heritage resource for Savannah and Georgia, but the structure additionally is important as an icon of the American historic preservation movement itself. It is cited as the initial project that spurred Savannah's preservation ethic and created the Historic Savannah Foundation in 1955 during the initial struggle to save the irreplaceable structure from demolition. This effort ultimately resulted in the preservation of the 1733 city plan and hundreds of structures now encompassed in a National Historic Landmark District.

"Historic preservation and heritage tourism each serves a dual purpose of bolstering economies while teaching Americans more about our shared past," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who attended today's awards event. "While it is difficult to hold onto everything that is old, we can work to preserve what is the essential character of the past. Today's four award recipients have done an extraordinary job of reconnecting us with our history."

The Presidential Awards are one component of Preserve America, a White House initiative that highlights the efforts of President and Mrs. Bush to preserve our national heritage. Each year, two awards are given for activities advancing heritage tourism and two awards are given for privately funded historic preservation projects or programs. This was the second year the Preserve America Presidential Awards were conferred in May, which is National Preservation Month.

The Preserve America Presidential Awards are given annually to organizations, businesses, government entities, and individuals for:

  • exemplary accomplishments in the sustainable use and preservation of cultural or natural heritage assets;
  • demonstrated commitment to the protection and interpretation of America's cultural or natural heritage assets; and
  • integration of these assets into contemporary community life, combining innovative, creative, and responsible approaches to showcasing historic local resources.

Mrs. Laura Bush is Honorary Chair of the Preserve America initiative.

Accompanying Secretary Norton at today's Rose Garden ceremony were P. Lynn Scarlett, Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, and Fran Mainella, National Park Service Director.

The recipients are chosen through a national competition administered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Transportation; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and the Council on Environmental Quality; in cooperation with the Executive Office of the President.

For more information on this and other aspects of the Preserve America program, please visit

For photographs and information on the 2005 Preserve America Presidential Award winners, visit

ABOUT THE ACHP: The ACHP, an independent Federal agency, promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of the Nation's historic resources, and advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also provides a forum for influencing Federal activities, programs, and policies that impact historic properties. In addition, the ACHP has a key role in carrying out the Administration's Preserve America program. See for more information.




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