2 Northern Kentucky Projects to Be Honored at State Preservation Awards


Two historic buildings in Northern Kentucky will be honored in Frankfort next week at the annual Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards. 

The Rabbit Hash General Store – which burned to the ground in 2016, only to be restored by the Rabbit Hash Historical Society – and the former Hellmann Lumber building – now home to the Hellmann Creative Center and the Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington – are among the honorees from around Kentucky.

The awards, presented by Willis Memorial Foundation in partnership with the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office, will be given on Tuesday.

In Rabbit Hash, the famed general store that has been in continuous operation since 1831, was nearly entirely lost to fire last year, but was retored by the Rabbit Hash Historical Society and other supporters who preserved and utilized as much remaining fabric as possible in the rebuilding, the state noted in its press release.

In Covington, the old Hellmann Lumber & Manufacturing Company buildign – a 13,800-sq. ft. building constructed between 1886 and 1894, has been adapted by the Center for Great Neighborhoods into a creative placemaking hub with flexible community space, artist studios, and the Center’s new offices.

2017 Honorees also include:

The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Award is presented to the individual who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the cause of historic preservation in the Commonwealth. The 2017 recipient is Linda Bruckheimer of Bloomfield, Ky., and Los Angeles, Calif., who is being recognized for more than two decades of preservation philanthropy, investment and advocacy at the local, state and national level.

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Bruckheimer has restored many buildings in Bloomfield, and with her husband, Hollywood movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, established the Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer Fund for Kentucky, which supports preservation efforts.

Preservation Project Awards recognize outstanding examples of rehabilitation or preservation of historic buildings, or other types of projects that have had a significant impact on Kentucky’s built environment or historic or prehistoric places:

  • Paducah Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, the city’s finest example of Art Deco architecture, long vacant and deteriorating before Ed and Meagan Musselman purchased it for redevelopment, preserving many original features, bringing in new businesses and jobs, and showcasing local art and artists
  • Robneel Building, Paris, a Main Street commercial and residential structure dating to 1908, carefully rehabilitated by owners Darrell and Debbie Poynter and their son, Chris, who preserved many original features and also allowed former owners, the local Odd Fellows Lodge, to continue meeting on the property

Service to Preservation Awards honor those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to historic preservation, had a positive impact on preserving historic or prehistoric resources through advocacy or education, or developed innovative or model preservation programs:

  • Eric and Ellen Gregory of Midway, for their hands-on rehabilitation of multiple family homes, notably The Bell House in Metcalfe County; for engaging their children to help with these projects; and for utilizing and promoting the use of historic rehabilitation tax credits
  • Martin Luther King and William Wells Brown Neighborhood Associations for “Gathering Our History: An East End Preservation Project,” for documenting Lexington’s East End neighborhood, capturing its stories, and creating an event to publicly celebrate the community’s rich cultural heritage, historic architecture and long-time residents
  • University of Kentucky Historic Preservation Symposium, an annual conference that premiered in 2005 to introduce students and others to innovative work shaping the boundaries of historic preservation practice by bringing together a range of speakers to discuss current topics in an accessible format
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Grassroots Preservation Awards honor individuals who have committed their personal time and resources to take on a challenge that addresses preservation of historic resources at the local level:

  • Dr. Andy Paul Keaton of Red Bush in Johnson County, for his considerable time and investment in restoring the Lloyd Hamilton Mott House, a vernacular frame structure dating to 1890 and remarkable for its all-wood construction, and for inventing creative solutions to overcome unique challenges
  • Mt. Washington Youth Chamber of Preservationists (Youth COPs) for “A Milestone at the Crossroads,” a community-wide collaborative led by five Bullitt East high school students to preserve and re-display a limestone mile marker from the 1830s Louisville-Bardstown Turnpike along with an interpretive marker

Ida Lee Willis was the first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now Heritage Council) and widow of former Gov. Simeon Willis at the time of her appointment in 1966. The foundation was chartered in her memory in 1979 to create an annual awards program and honor her legacy.

The awards are presented each May during National Historic Preservation Month and recognize excellence in the preservation of historic buildings and cultural resources through investment, advocacy, volunteerism, building partnerships, public involvement, lifelong commitment or significant achievement.

-Staff report