May 9, 2007— Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States and Honorary Chair of Preserve America, today announced and presented the 2007 Preserve America Presidential Awards at a White House Rose Garden ceremony. This is the highest national award for historic preservation achievement.

Two honorees were selected in each of two categories: Heritage Tourism, for projects that exemplify efforts that demonstrate commitment to the protection and interpretation of America's cultural or natural heritage assets; and Private Preservation, for outstanding privately funded historic preservation projects that are funded priviately or through public-private partnerships and that support the Administration's Preserve America initiative objectives.

In the Heritage Tourism category, the two winners are:

  • USS MidwayMuseum: San Diego, California
  • Natchitoches-Cane River Region Heritage Tourism: Louisiana

In the Private Preservation category, the two winners are:

  • The History Channel, Save Our History: Nationwide and New York City
  • Downtown St. Louis Revitalization: Missouri

The Preserve America Presidential Awards are given annually to organizations, businesses, and government entities 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. 

The recipients are chosen through a national competition administered by the ACHP in cooperation with the Executive Office of the President, and in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Summaries of 2007 Preserve America Presidential Award Honorees

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum opened in 2004, after more than a decade of preparatory effort, to preserve the USS Midway and transform it into a naval aviation history museum that emphasizes people and culture as well as technology and events. With a volunteer and docent force exceeding 300 people, it offers educational outreach to more than 25,000 elementary students annually. Already 2.5 million people have visited, and events are hosted aboard more than 200 evenings a year. With annual gross revenues of $14 million, about $3 million is dedicated to preservation and additional restoration each year. The museum lists among key partners the U.S. Navy, Unified Port of San Diego, and the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau. Many other community organizations also are involved. 

Accepting on behalf of the USS Midway Museum were Mac McLaughlin, president and CEO; and Scott McGaugh, marketing director.

Natchitoches-Cane River Region Heritage Tourism

Natchitoches-Cane River Region Heritage Tourism consists of the Natchitoches Main Street program and Cane River National Heritage Area, which are implementing a comprehensive heritage tourism plan to provide visitors with authentic experiences and residents with a better quality of life. Natchitoches was the first permanent European settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. The Cane River National Heritage Area preserves the history and living traditions of French, Spanish, African American, American Indian, and Creole cultures. The tourism effort successfully incorporates many diverse elements and initiatives. In the Natchitoches National Historic Landmark District alone there has been more than $47 million in private and $1 million in public investment for historic preservation and infrastructure improvements since 1999, and almost 80 new businesses opened within the district during that period. Local economic development, preservation, and tourism interests partner with state and federal entities in the overall effort. 

Accepting on behalf of Natchitoches and the Cane River National Heritage Area were Wayne McCullen, mayor of Natchitoches; and Nancy Morgan, executive director, Cane River National Heritage Area Commission.

Save Our History

Save Our History, The History Channel’s national strategic philanthropy initiative, was established in 1998 to support community historic preservation efforts, promote heritage tourism, and enhance history education. Through its grant program, history organizations collaborate with public school students, teachers, and local officials to support local preservation efforts and education. In its first three years, Save Our History received more than 1,500 grant applications from every state and Washington, D.C., and awarded 82 grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Save Our History enhances history education and historic preservation instruction locally and nationwide, providing teachers with resources to encourage and engage students. This includes a Save Our History educator’s manual, teacher awards, student scholarships, and teacher training. The History Channel also generally promotes heritage tourism through its programming and directly through an innovative partnership with the city of New York. 

Accepting for Save Our History were Abbe Raven, president and CEO, A&E Television Networks; and Nancy Dubuc, executive vice president, The History Channel.

Downtown St. Louis Revitalization

Downtown St. Louis Revitalization involves two private companies taking a risk others were unwilling to take, resulting in the preservation and revitalization of an irreplaceable historic part of downtown St. Louis that had fallen into decay. The principals of LoftWorks, LLC and The Pyramid Companies invested in four structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places that had long been empty, under foreclosure, and/or threatened with demolition in what was considered a failed market. According to St. Louis city planners, local conventional wisdom before these projects’ success was that “the downtown needed to be torn down, so that new business could come in.” Instead, these privately led and funded projects in partnership with city government leadership spurred development interest in historic industrial and commercial buildings in the city’s core, created new urban residential space, renewed civic pride, and assisted in creating tremendous economic vitality in a previously depressed Downtown. 

Receiving the award for Downtown St. Louis Revitalization were Craig Heller, managing partner, LoftWorks, LLC; and John R. Steffen, president, The Pyramid Companies.