Tennessee Historical Commission Announces 2023 Certificate Of Merit Award Recipients

  • Monday, May 15, 2023

The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced the recipients of this year’s annual Certificate of Merit. 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.

“Our state benefits greatly from individuals, businesses, and organizations who work to protect and enhance our treasured heritage,” said Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer Patrick McIntyre. “From a distinguished professional who worked for decades in support of historic preservation-- to the transformative adaptive reuse of a former hosiery mill in Cleveland into housing--we are honored to recognize this inspiring group of recipients.”

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. 2023 recipients in this category include:

• Belmont Mansion in Nashville for the restoration of the 19-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling in the Grand Salon to its former appearance.

• Bill Taylor for his extensive research and role in the restoration of the box tomb and obelisk in the William Ewing Cemetery in Nashville.

• Emily Williams for the completion of her Eagle Scout Project, mapping and documenting the Brewer’s Chapel Cemetery in Chapmansboro.

• J.N. Oliver and Stewart Buildings in Memphis for the completion of a rehabilitation project of two buildings within a National Register of Historic Places District for commercial and residential use.

• John McKamey for playing an integral role in the acquisition of 15 acres of the original Cobb Farm of Rocky Mount State Historic Site in Piney Flats.

• Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park in Manchester for their Cemetery Cleaning Workshop at Hickerson-Wooton Cemetery.

• Sanda Hosiery Mills for the rehabilitation of the National Register of Historic Places property into residential lofts in Cleveland.

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 recipient in this category is Katatra Vasquez for her children's graphic novel about the history of Oak Ridge before it became the Secret City during the Manhattan Project and through the eyes of African Americans. Josie’s Hope: A Secret City Revealed also points out landmarks that are still extant related to the pre-Secret City history of Oak Ridge.

The 2023 awards include the presentation of a special Preservation Leadership Award to Claudette Stager in Nashville, for her 37 years of service with the Tennessee Historical Commission and State Historic Preservation Office, as a National Register Coordinator then the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. Stager’s award represents the fifth time that this honor has been bestowed.

For more information about the Tennessee Historical Commission, please visit the website. Applications for the 2024 Merit Awards can be found here. For additional information, please contact Caty Dirksen at caty.dirksen@tn.gov.

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