Popcorn & Preservation: What’s the connection? Four dedicated public servants honored with Historic Preservation Awards

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WASHINGTON – In a small movie theater in Colorado, Dan Corson donated his time to sell bags of popcorn to help raise funds to save the theater; one of many properties he helped preserve.   The Department of the Interior recently honored him and three other government and tribal employees with the annual Secretary of the Interior Historic Preservation Awards, recognizing their outstanding contributions to the preservation of historic places.

“We often appreciate the preservation of America’s historic places without realizing the extent of persistence, hard work, and sacrifice of dedicated preservationists behind the scenes,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.  “These awards bring to the forefront the passion they have for saving our cultural heritage for present and future generations.

Award winners’ contributions surpass the expected scope of their positions, and their creativity and expertise foster the overall goals of the National Historic Preservation Act.

This award is distinguished from other historic preservation award programs in that it focuses on the accomplishments of individuals and not on programs or projects. The award also recognizes the contributions of employees at multiple levels of government.

The winners of the 2014 awards are:

Federal Preservation Office Category – Beth L. Savage, Federal Historic Preservation Officer, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)

With more than 30 years of federal service, including time with the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places, Beth Savage continues to make a significant impact in federal preservation efforts as a Federal Preservation Officer for GSA.  She works with an extensive historic property inventory of more than 480 buildings; about one-third of GSA’s owned inventory.  As of 2014, Savage and her team have nominated 63 buildings to the National Register of Historic Places and identified more than 60 Modern-era assets as eligible for the Register.  In the last three years, her program has received 58 regional and national awards recognizing 25 GSA historic building projects in 19 states.  Last year, GSA issued its first-ever policy on leasing and preservation entitled "Lease Requirements for Protection of Environmental, Archeological and Historic Resources.”

State Historic Preservation Office Category – Dan W. Corson, Intergovernmental Services Director, Colorado State Historic Preservation Office (retired)

Dan W. Corson juggled several positions over his successful career in historic preservation in Colorado.  During his 17 years of service at History Colorado, the State Historic Preservation Office, Corson expanded the Certified Local Government (CLG) Program from 20 up to 52 CLGs and coordinated Section 106 review and compliance.  With a staff of only three people, he oversaw the review of more than 3,000 federal projects annually.  While a member of the Boulder City Council, he was committed to local historic preservation efforts.  Corson also served on the Boulder Landmarks Board assisting in the development of design guidelines for several historic districts, including the Chautauqua historic district, a newly designated National Historic Landmark. 

Tribal Historic Preservation Office Category – Vernelda J. Grant, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, San Carlos Apache Tribe

Vernelda Grant’s dedicated service extends from tribal preservation efforts within the San Carlos Apache Tribe to efforts across the country.  In 2006, Grant became the San Carlos Apache Nation’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO), in addition to already being the Tribal Archaeologist and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Representative.  She then assisted five other tribes in their efforts to become certified THPOs.  Grant also served as a member of the Native American Advisory Group for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, three terms on the Arizona Governor’s Archaeology Advisory Commission, as Chair of the National Congress of American Indians Commission on Repatriation and Burial Sites Protection,  and as a member of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona’s Cultural Resources Working Group.

Certified Local Government (CLG) Category – Esley Hamilton, Preservation Historian, St. Louis County, Missouri

For almost 40 years, Esley Hamilton improved local preservation efforts and outreach in the St. Louis, Missouri area.  In 1977, Hamilton answered an advertisement from the St. Louis County Parks Department to write three National Register nominations and the rest is history.  As the St. Louis County historian, he started an inventory of historical structures in the county and wrote National Register of Historic Places nominations for 30 sites and eight historic districts.  During his tenure, 14 municipalities in St. Louis County enacted preservation ordinances and 12 have become certified as CLGs.  As part of Hamilton’s education and outreach efforts, he worked with citizen groups to from historical societies, published over 120 articles and books, and personally gave walking tours of local historical sites.

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