Kentucky Heritage Council
Kentucky Heritage Council Executive Director / State Historic Preservation Officer David L. Morgan to retire after 22 years
Kentucky Heritage Council Executive Director /
State Historic Preservation Officer David L. Morgan
to retire after 22 years
Release Date Contact: Diane Comer
IMMEDIATE 502-564-7005, ext. 120
December 7, 2006 firstname.lastname@example.org
FRANKFORT, Ky. – No doubt the Kentucky landscape would look much different today had David L. Morgan not taken the career path that he did. Fortunately, he recognized his love of historic buildings early on and instead of becoming an architect chose to focus on preservation. Now after 29 years with the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office, the last 22 as executive director and state historic preservation officer, Morgan will retire at the end of this month from a post he has held since Martha Layne Collins first appointed him in 1984.
“I’ve been so privileged to be able to work with a variety of people from all over the state, and after all these years that is what I am going to miss the most,” Morgan said. “I can’t even begin to name all of these individuals but these are the people on the front lines in every community in every county of the state, usually volunteers, who are actively working to save and preserve their local heritage. I also grew up and worked with a whole generation of committed public servants who started working in Frankfort about the same time that I did, and looking back we were able to accomplish some amazing things over the last 30 years.”
Morgan has survived funding crises, shifting political priorities and five governors on both sides of the political aisle by fostering an entrepreneurial approach to address challenges and change. Throughout his tenure the agency has achieved many successes at the federal, state and local level based on three principles: That all preservation must happen locally, that partnerships are essential for success, and that historic preservation addresses many important issues facing the state. These ideals have translated into the Heritage Council being active in a variety of important statewide initiatives pertaining to affordable housing, jobs creation, economic development, community revitalization, environmental conservation and building quality of life.
“David Morgan's contribution to preserving the Commonwealth has been truly historic,” said George Ward, Commerce Cabinet Secretary. “Not only did he have the knowledge of why buildings, battlefields or structures were worthy of saving; he taught me and countless others why preservation was vital to a thriving economy. David knew that future growth could be balanced against the needs of preserving our past.”
A native of Oxford, Ohio, Kentucky captured Morgan’s attention as a student at Centre College. Following internships with the Heritage Council (formerly the Kentucky Heritage Commission) and graduation, he joined the agency full time in 1977 and went on to earn a master’s degree in historic preservation from Columbia University.
In 1979 Morgan created the Kentucky Main Street Program, the oldest statewide main street program in the country, which encourages downtown revitalization within the context of historic preservation. Today the Kentucky Main Street Program has 110 participating communities from Paducah to Ashland that have since reinvested more than $2 billion in their communities. Also because of Morgan’s encouragement that communities apply in unison, Kentucky has remained the top state in the White House Preserve America initiative since its inception, today with 65 designated Preserve America Communities, three neighborhoods and one historic district.
Kentucky was also one of the first states to focus on rural preservation. Created in 1991, the Heritage Council’s Civil War Sites Preservation Program has been widely hailed as a national model because of its proactive focus on identification, protection, preservation and education. In 2005, central Kentucky was selected as one of two regions nationally for the Rural Heritage Development Initiative pilot project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Heritage Council and Preservation Kentucky, Inc. Goals are to utilize historic, cultural and natural resources to develop preservation-based rural economic development strategies.
Another example of the agency’s approach to innovative partnerships is the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a program shared between the Heritage Council and University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology, which provides archaeological services and educational programs to public and private agencies and assists with the preservation of historic sites.
The federal Transportation Enhancement program has been particularly successful in Kentucky, with more than $110 million awarded to transportation-related historic preservation projects since 1991. Morgan also engineered a partnership between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky Division to draft a landmark Memorandum of Agreement for widening historic Paris Pike using a context-sensitive design to retain the historic nature of the route. This led to a national award, the John H. Chafee Trustees Award for Outstanding Public Policy, presented in 2002 by the National Trust.
To honor his legacy, Preservation Kentucky has created the David L. Morgan Endowed Fund “to support historic preservation projects throughout the state and maintain David’s legacy of work in Kentucky,” according to Joanna Hinton, executive director. A farewell dinner in Morgan’s honor November 10 at the newly restored Henry Clay Hotel in Louisville raised several thousand dollars for the endowment and drew nearly 200 people.
In 2002 Morgan was named a Centre College Distinguished Alumnus. In 2004 National Trust President Richard Moe honored him with a President’s Award, which read in part, “In grateful appreciation for his outstanding leadership in tirelessly advocating for historic preservation causes… His dedication to the preservation of Kentucky’s significant historic resources has earned him the admiration of preservationists throughout the Commonwealth and across the nation.” In March, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers honored Morgan with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a current SHPO, Deputy SHPO or staff person who has made a significant, long-term contribution to historic preservation.
Morgan will retire to Washington, DC, where he will join his wife, Marcia. They have a son, Ned, a freshman at the University of Kentucky.
A job description for the executive director position is posted at the Heritage Council Web site, www.heritage.ky.gov.
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An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for the identification, protection and preservation of historic and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens. This mission is integral to making communities more livable and has a far-ranging impact on issues as diverse as economic development, jobs creation, affordable housing, tourism, community revitalization, environmental conservation and quality of life. www.heritage.ky.gov