2003 Preservation Awards

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Tower Grove Park

St. Louis, MO

AWARD for the meticulous and professional restoration during the past 15 years of 37 buildings, statuary and assorted structures erected during the Victorian era in this National Historic Landmark park.

The park is one of the largest and most complete 19th century urban landscapes remaining the United States. With 289 acres, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in l989.  The park is especially rich in Victorian buildings, statuary, and other structures erected between 1868 and 1914.  These include fanciful and colorful pavilions in Chinese and Turkish styles, a palm house and a plant house, elaborate gazebos, riding stables, and numerous entrance gates and bridges.  Major sculptures also ornament the park.

During the past fifteen years, a concerted effort, bringing together private and public support, has resulted in the meticulous and professional restoration of 37 of these Victorian structures and statues.  The support of the Friends of Tower Grove Park was essential.  Plans are ongoing for the pruning, removal, and replacement of over 8,500 specimens of planting materials.  Documents left by park founder Henry Shaw were followed as closely as possible.   This enormous accomplishment has greatly enhanced the quality of life for more than one million visitors each year and is a justifiable source of civic pride.

Website: Tower Grove Park


First Class Coach #63 Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railway

North Freedom, Wisconsin

AWARD for the rescue and faithful restoration of this rare survivor of an 1888 wooden coach built by Barney & Smith Manufacturing Company and decorated by Edward Colonna.

This rare survivor of a wooden passenger coach was constructed by hand in l888 at the Barney & Smith Manufacturing Company of Dayton, Ohio, and its cherry and oak interior was decorated with stencils and carving designed by the noted artist Edward Colonna.  Retired from service by the railroad in l930, the coach was eventually placed on a foundation, with its interior seats removed, and it was used as an office at Chicago¹s Wood Street Potato Mart.

In l970 the Mid-Continent Railway Museum acquired the coach, shipped it to Wisconsin, and began the meticulous research required for its restoration.  No expense was spared in locating compatible replacement elements such as the undercarriage platform, seating, metal fittings, kerosene lamps, and coal stoves.  Missing items were faithfully replicated, as necessary.  The restoration is probably the most accurately documented and restored Barney & Smith wooden coach, decorated by Colonna, in existence today.  It is now open for public inspection and interpretation at the museum.

Website: First Class Coach #63

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Reitz House Museum

Evansville, Indiana

COMMENDATION For the preservation and careful restoration of the Victorian mansion and its carriage house constructed in 1871 by lumber baron John Augustus Reitz and open to the public since 1974.

In 1871 lumber baron and philanthropist John Augustus Reitz constructed his mansion and carriage house in the French Second Empire style from the designs of local architect Henry Mursinna. After a major interior remodeling by Reitz¹s son in the 1890¹s, the family retained the house, largely unchanged, until 1931, after which it became the residence of the local Catholic bishop.  In 1974 the Reitz Home Preservation Society acquired the property and began a careful restoration of the exterior and interior.

Original Reitz family furnishings were retained or acquired, and compatible period pieces were added. Paint samples enabled the 1890¹s color schemes and decoration to be reinstated. Most recently, the restoration of the house¹s drawing room has been completed to much acclaim. The Reitz Home has served as the cornerstone for a successful preservation initiative in Evansville and is still the only historic house open to the public in that city. With its offering of educational programs and interpretive tours, it exemplifies an elegant era of Victorian living.

Website: Reitz Home Museum

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