National Preservation Month and the 2020 Certificate of Merit Award Program


Since 1975, the Tennessee Historical Commission has celebrated National Preservation Month by conferring Certificate of Merit Awards in May.  This program honors the exemplary work carried out by individuals, groups, organizations, corporations, and governmental entities that promote historic preservation and the study of history in Tennessee.  Nominations from the public are judged by category.  

This year, Dr. William Kennedy received a Preservation Leadership Award, the 3rd bestowed in 45 years, for his preservation leadership in Jonesborough, the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region, and his service to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Recipients in the Historic Preservation category:

• Joseph Gregory in Bristol, for rehabilitating the E.W. King Co. building as the Bristol Renaissance Center, an exemplary use of Tax Increment Financing for commercial historic district revitalization.        

• John Ross in Savannah, for rehabilitating a Queen Anne-influenced residence to commercial space, an exemplary use of federal historic tax credits for small town historic district revitalization.  

• Self+Tucker Architects in Memphis, for rehabilitating the 1949 McKissack & McKissack-designed Universal Life Insurance Building, an exemplary green building project and use of federal historic tax credits to preserve African American history and architecture.      

• TDOT Cultural Resources and Region 3 in Nashville, for 1823 Nashville Toll Bridge clearing and interpretation, an exemplary addition to the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. 


Self + Tucker Architects


Recipient in the Book or Public Programming category: 

• Rob DeHart in Nashville, for the Tennessee State Museum’s exhibit, Let’s Eat! Origins and Evolution of Tennessee Food, an exemplary program to broaden the museum’s audience with an inclusive presentation of the state’s food history.

Recipients in the Commissioners’ Special Commendation category: 

• Lee Millar, Alan Doyle, and Mike Cross in Memphis, for their efforts to recover three historic statues.

• Serina Gilbert in Charlotte, for Promise Land preservation and African American history education.