Historic Preservation Awards
For over forty years, the Metropolitan Historical Commission has recognized outstanding efforts to preserve Nashville’s historic architecture with its annual Preservation Awards program. For a list and map of previous award winners, from 1973 to the present, please visit the Preservation Awards dataset on Metro Nashville's Open Data Portal.
45th Annual Preservation Awards - Call for Nominations
Due to concerns and uncertainties related to COVID-19, the Historical Commission is postponing the 45th Annual Preservation Awards program, originally scheduled for May 2020, until 2021. We will hold all nominations received for the 2020 program for consideration next year. The call for nominations remains open, and we welcome entries for the 2021 program now through the March 2021 deadline (TBD).
The Metropolitan Historical Commission is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Preservation Awards program, honoring Davidson County's best preservation projects. Anyone may nominate buildings or structures that have been restored, rehabilitated, or carefully maintained over time. The awards also recognize well-designed new construction that harmonizes with a historic environment. To be considered. nominated properties must be located in Davidson County and, with the exception of the infill construction category, must have been built no later than 1971. Infill projects should be no older than 2019. All projects must have been completed within the past two years. Previous winners may be eligible if the work is significantly different.
Categories for Nominations:
- Residential Properties (single-family and multi-family)
- Commercial Buildings
- Religious Properties
- Engineering and Industrial Structures
- Educational and Institutional Buildings
- Monuments and Memorials
- Infill Construction (New structures located within a context of historic architecture)
To qualify for a Preservation Award, a project should:
- Be located in Nashville/Davidson County
- Demonstrate outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation
- Be completed by the date the application is submitted. All projects must have been completed within 2 years prior (you may re-submit previously nominated projects that did not receive an award one additional time).
- Have an original construction date prior to 1971 (Infill projects should be no older than 2019)
- Meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties
- Preservation of original historic fabric or landscape
- Sensitivity to architectural and historic integrity of the property (retention/restoration of character-defining features, appropriateness of alterations or additions, and respect for historic context)
- Architectural merit and/or historical interest
- Creativity in adaptation for contemporary use
- Soundness of condition (including overall craftsmanship and quality of work)
- Adherence to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (i.e., Rehabilitation)
- Interiors, except for residential properties (primary emphasis is given to exterior restoration, but if interior work is accessible to the public, it is also eligible for consideration)
Additional considerations include:
- Impact on historic preservation in the community/Davidson County
- Use of historic research materials to document decisions made during the process
- Importance of the project to the long-term preservation of the building
- Impact, or potential impact, of the project on the surrounding community
- Infill shall respect the height, scale, and mass of the immediate historic context and shall be compatible with this context in terms of building materials, roof form, fenestration pattern, and other details. Contemporary designs that introduce modern materials and details while still respecting the dominant building forms and scale of the immediate context are encouraged.
During April 2021 (to be announced), an independent judging team will tour nominated buildings (exteriors only, for those in the residential category) and view the images associated with each nomination. Metro Historical Commission staff will notify all nominees of the judging date and will contact property owners to schedule tours as necessary. The jury of professionals from the fields of historic preservation, architecture, landscape architecture, archaeology, history, government, private industry, planning, and education will judge and evaluate the nominations and select the winners. The jury will evaluate each nomination on its individual merit. The jury reserves the right to make multiple awards, or no awards, in each category.
A public awards presentation will be held in May 2021 (to be announced). At the awards program, the judges will announce the winners. Team members associated with the selected projects (owners, developers, architects, designers, contractors, landscape architects, etc.) will be asked to come forward to receive an award certificate.
All award submissions must be in digital format. Nominations may be submitted on a flash drive or CD sent to the Metro Historical Commission office (multiple nominations may be submitted together on one drive/CD) OR through an online file-sharing service (such as Dropbox) to email@example.com. Do not email submission materials directly to the Metro Historical Commission.
If you have questions, please contact Scarlett Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-862-7970 extension 79778.
Applications must include:
All entries must include an image of the front elevation of the building or structure as it appears today. Other images that help convey the before and after conditions for the judges are current views of other elevations, historic photographs, shots of details, views of original conditions, work in progress, and the completed project. Other supporting documentation, such as technical drawings, may be submitted if they contribute to the explanation of the project. Include interior photos of publicly accessible spaces and if interior rehabilitation is addressed in project narrative (residential properties).
Submit digital photos in a JPEG format via a file-sharing service (such as Dropbox) to email@example.com or on a CD/flash drive, along with the Nomination Form and list of Project Partners. Identify all images and limit number to no more than 30. Do not email images directly to the Metro Historical Commission.
Supporting materials/media are not returnable. Submission of photographs and all other material authorizes the Metropolitan Historical Commission to use them for judging and award presentation, and to publish such material in the course of its activities. The Metropolitan Historical Commission reserves the right to use submitted images in presentations, reports, press releases, web postings, or any other formats.
Confirmation of Receipt:
We will confirm receipt of all applications. If you do not receive a confirmation within one week of your submission, please contact Scarlett Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-862-7970 extension 79778.
History Of the Preservation Awards Program
The Metropolitan Historical Commission’s Preservation Awards program began in 1973 as an Architectural Awards program. Miss Margaret Lindsley Warden, a charter member and former chair of the MHC, had the idea to create an incentive for people to preserve historic buildings. She had observed how successful prizes were in horse shows and had heard of similar awards programs for preservation of buildings in other cities.
In 1973, the purpose was stated as: 1) To stimulate interest in the owners of pertinent buildings to preserve and restore them with authenticity, and 2) To spread information, i.e., to educate the community, on the merits (architectural and historical) and contemporary uses of distinguished buildings of the past.
The awards were originally aimed at residences, but the categories have increased as the need arose. In 1973 the categories included dwellings, offices, and historic districts. In 1997 those properties were expanded to six categories: residences (both single and multi-family structures), commercial buildings, religious properties, educational and institutional buildings, engineering and industrial structures, and infill construction.
Since 1973, over 400 awards have gone to a broad range of historic structures – dwellings, churches, commercial and industrial buildings, schools, even to bridges and new developments. Nominated by the public, they are honored for their sensitivity to the original architecture and the surrounding environment, creativity in adaptation for contemporary use, architectural merit and/or historic interest, long-term maintenance, adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and pioneering spirit. The public awards ceremony coincides with National Preservation Month, which is celebrated every year in May.
Today, in addition to recognizing various preservation projects, the Commission recognizes individuals and groups with a select number of special awards, including the Achievement and Commissioners’ Awards.
The Achievement Award is given to an individual in recognition of his/her extraordinary leadership in preserving Nashville’s history -- either through research and writing history or through advocacy and raising public awareness of history and preservation. The Commissioners' Award recognizes a group, program, or project that enhances Nashville’s history and historic resources. It is designed to honor projects that do not fit within the traditional preservation award categories. Achievement and Commissioners’ Awards are selected by the Historical Commission. In 2016, the Commission introduced the Fletch Coke Award, named in honor of Fletch Coke and her extraordinary efforts to preserve the history and historic landmarks of Nashville and Davidson County. Recipients are selected for their tenacity, curious spirit, and excellence in historical research, writing, and promotion of Nashville's local history and historic places.
In the early years, the Commission held a separate event to recognize various individuals, groups, and projects that were involved in the preservation of the built environment and the promotion of our local history. Eventually, the two awards programs were combined. In recent years, the name of the new program changed to “Preservation Awards” to acknowledge the diversity of individuals, groups, and types of projects receiving awards.
Participation In the Preservation Awards Program
Nominations for the 45th Annual Preservation Awards program are due in March 2021 (TBD). Please email Scarlett.Miles@nashville.gov for details.
For more information about the Preservation Awards program, please call the Metropolitan Historical Commission at 615-862-7970 or email email@example.com.