2023 Certificate of Merit Awards Announced

By Caty Dirksen

The Tennessee Historical Commission celebrates National Preservation Month each May by presenting Certificate of Merit Awards in recognition of exemplary work by individuals, groups, organizations, corporations, or governmental entities that further promote historic preservation or the study of history in Tennessee. Since 1975, THC’s Certificate of Merit Program has solicited Merit Award nominations from the public. All nominations are judged by category.

Claudette Stager

This year, Claudette Stager received a Preservation Leadership Award, the 5th bestowed in 48 years, 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.

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.

The 2023 awards in this category goes to:

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

Belmont Mansion
William Ewing Cemetery

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.

Emily Williams
J.N. Oliver and Stewart Buildings

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.

J.N. Oliver and Stewart Buildings

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 Flatts.

John McKamey
Old Stone Fort

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.

Sanda Mills

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 2023 awards in this category goes to:

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.

Josie's Hope