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Covington, Bellevue, Owenton Projects Win State Preservation Awards

The 39th annual Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Preservaton Awards were handed out at the Kentucky Governor's Mansion this week, in partnership with the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office.

Projects in Covington, Bellevue, and Owenton won awards, as did a Kentucky Supreme Court justice.

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. Justice Bill Cunningham is an historian who has authored several books including Castle: Story of a Kentucky Prison and On Bended Knees: The True Story of the Night Rider Tobacco War in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Cunningham has been actively involved in the preservation of the Caldwell, Livingston, and Trigg county courthouses, and instrumental in raising funds and helping to preserve and restore the Davis Amos House in Caldwell County, and the 1820 Rose Hill mansion next to Eddyville Penitentiary, now a museum and home of Lyon County Historical Society. He is also a trustee for the historic old Eddyville section of Riverview Cemetery, where he established a certificate program for Kentucky State Penitentiary inmates working to care for and preserve it.

Preservation Project Awards recognize outstanding efforts in historic building rehabilitation or preservation, or other types of projects that have had a significant positive impact on Kentucky’s built environment or in the preservation of historic or prehistoric places. Northern Kentucky recipients were:

—  Hotel Covington and the Salyers Group, in recognition of the partnership and vision that went into rehabilitation of the former Coppin’s Department Store, the state’s first modern skyscraper when it was introduced in 1910; for significant investment and use of rehabilitation tax credits and other incentives utilized to restore and return this historic building to one of Covington’s most stylish destinations; and for the hotel’s role in fueling a downtown resurgence that continues to flourish.

—  George W. Robson Jr. House, Bellevue, to owners Taylor and Sasha Voss for their personal commitment to rehabilitate historic exterior elements of their circa 1889 Queen Anne-Romanesque Revival home; for investing in repair of an original slate roof, rebuilding a side porch, and recreating a copper box gutter across the front; and for reversing previous insensitive alterations and restoring the house to the original design intended by renowned Cincinnati architect Samuel E. des Jardins.

The River City News profiled the Vosses in 2015.

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. Northern Kentucky had one winner:

—  Patrick Kennedy of Owenton, freelance consultant, for his leadership establishing the Pine Mountain School for Practical Historic Preservation, which for more than a decade has trained individuals in traditional preservation trades including window repair and timber framing; for the ripple effect these and other hands-on courses he has led throughout the state have had to create new jobs and businesses; for being an educator and mentor; and for helping implement an innovative design-build process for the ongoing rehabilitation of Kentucky’s covered bridges.

Ida Lee Willis was the first state historic preservation officer and executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now Heritage Council), 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.

-Staff report