photo of interior of National Park Seminary Ballroom

Planning Department Honored for Historic Preservation

photo of interior of National Park Seminary BallroomThe Montgomery County Planning Department will be recognized at the annual Montgomery Preservation Inc. Historic Preservation Awards program on March 28. Historic Planner Clare Lise Kelly is set to receive the Montgomery Prize, the highest honor awarded by Montgomery Preservation. Montgomery Preservation Inc. will also recognize the Montgomery Modern Initiative, a documentation and educational program launched by Kelly and the Historic Preservation Office. The reception will be held at the National Park Seminary Ballroom (9610 Dewitt Dr., Silver Spring) starting at 6 p.m. with the awards portion of the evening starting at 7 p.m.

The Montgomery Prize will be presented to Clare Lise Kelly in recognition of her 25 years of exemplary professional and public service toward protecting County historic resources. Kelly began working for the Planning Department’s Historic Preservation office in 1990 and is now Research and Designation Coordinator. She leads the Montgomery Modern initiative to study and raise awareness about the architecture of the recent past.

A graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Design and Environmental Analysis, Kelly has a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont. She is the author of the award-winning Places from the Past: the Tradition of Gardez Bien in Montgomery County Maryland (2001), described by longtime Park Historian Michael Dwyer as the bible of historic sites for the county. Previously Kelly worked as architectural historian for Robinson & Associates, Washington, DC, and Historic Sites Curator at Pennsbury Manor, for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Pennsylvania.

The Montgomery Modern initiative will also receive an award at this year’s Preservation Awards for special achievement in education/media. The Montgomery Modern initiative was started in the fall of 2013 as a way to raise appreciation of midcentury modern architecture. The Montgomery Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Office launched a website (to present information about the buildings, architects, and developers that contributed to Montgomery County’s tremendous growth in the middle of the twentieth century). Last fall, a bus tour of midcentury buildings was offered as part of the initiative, and more public programming is in the works, including development of an interactive website that allows users to take a virtual tour with a GIS application.

Montgomery County historic preservation planners have begun exploring, analyzing and recording local midcentury modern buildings and communities as part of the Montgomery Modern initiative. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, Montgomery Modern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. Planners want to help raise the public’s understanding of – and appreciation for – these buildings and communities developed during a time of tremendous growth in Montgomery County.

“This is a tremendous honor for the Planning Department and we are incredibly proud of the excellent work of Clare Kelly in promoting awareness of historical resources in Montgomery County,” said Gwen Wright, Planning Director. “This recognition is especially meaningful because the Montgomery Modern program is a special initiative that is actively engaging the community, through technology, about midcentury modern architecture.”

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