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September 13, 2006

CW team receives award for Katrina Work

Colonial Williamsburg architectural collections and conservation experts received an Above and Beyond Service Award for Gulf Recovery Efforts from the Vernacular Architecture Forum (VAF) for their work in assessing the damage to historic structures caused by Hurricane Katrina. The VAF is a professional association that encourages the study and preservation of commonplace architecture.

At a ceremony on June 17 during VAF’s annual conference in New York, the association presented the award to Colonial Williamsburg’s Cary Carson, vice president of Research; Thomas Taylor, director of Architectural Collections Management and Conservation; and Roberta Laynor, architectural conservator and assistant architectural collections manager.

The three took part in trips to devastated areas of Mississippi, conducting assessments and analyses of historic buildings. The December trip focused on homes in Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula, Pass Christian, Pearlington, 2nd Street District and Gulfport. They were “one step ahead of the bulldozer, trying to determine which buildings could be saved,” Taylor said.

That also involved meeting with homeowners and writing personal letters with professional recommendations to salvage specific homes.

In May, an eight-member team visited two national landmarks, Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis’ Biloxi home, and the Krebs House in Pascagoula, at the invitation of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. After visiting both sites, they wrote detailed reports with suggestions for preserving the structures.

“We were very pleased,” Taylor said. “I don’t think we expected an award. For us the real reward was going down there to do something concrete, that had a significant impact on the preservation of historical buildings on the Gulf Coast. That was reward enough.”

“The real preservation heroes are staff members from the State Historic Preservation Office in Mississippi,” Carson added. “They’ve been on the job every day since the storm.”

“The people of the Gulf Coast deserve any help the American public can give,” Laynor said. “Nine months after Katrina the Beauvoir staff was spending every work day trying to save a wrecked National Historic Landmark and every night cleaning out their own devastated homes.”

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121