Ray Black & Son Recognized with Preservation Awards

The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Historic Preservation Awards are Kentucky’s most distinguished celebration of historic preservation excellence. Named for Kentucky’s first state historic preservation officer, the awards have been given since 1979 for the protection, preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings and landscapes, cultural resources, and archaeological sites.

Awards are presented in four categories and recognize personal commitment, investment, advocacy, volunteerism, building partnerships, public involvement, lifelong dedication, or significant achievement. The foundation hosts the awards in partnership with the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC).

Preservation Award

Ray Black & Son is proud to announce our own Chris Black was recognized this year with the Service to Preservation award.

This award recognizes individuals, organizations, nonprofits, public officials, financial institutions, news media, volunteers, and others whose contributions have had a positive impact on preserving historic and prehistoric resources. Craig Potts, Executive Director of the Kentucky Heritage Council & the State Historic Preservation Officer said of Chris:

Chris Black is an exceptionally well-respected preservationist who has given decades of service to the field, particularly in the area of rehabilitation and restoration. In a normal year Chris would be a contender for the Service to Preservation Award, but the volunteer time he has given to rebuilding efforts in the past 18 months have been nothing short of exemplary. When deadly tornadoes hit western Kentucky in December of 2021, Chris was there to support the impacted communities. He volunteered as an expert panelist for a community meeting convened by the Kentucky Heritage Council to interact with government officials and interested citizens in Mayfield. He also volunteered his time as a rehabilitation expert to help guide the congregation at the St. James AME Church in Mayfield toward preservation instead of demolition. His participation as a subject matter expert helped set them on their current course of preservation. He has since been involved in the repair of several damaged historic structures in Mayfield. In July of 2022, eastern Kentucky experienced devastating flooding that impacted historic resources across the region. Once again Chris volunteered to help, joining the Kentucky Heritage Council and other volunteers as a Resource Team Member. He traveled to eastern Kentucky and spent several days, at his own cost, to talk with local officials and property owners and offer guidance on the repair of damaged buildings. He has since gone back to volunteer more of his time.

Chris is the principal at Ray Black & Son, a successful and sought after design-build company that leaves him little extra time. The volunteer hours provided by Chris in service to preservation and the citizens of Kentucky show an incredible amount of passion and compassion that should be recognized.

Buddenbaum House

Also awarded during the ceremony was the Preservation Project Award, which honors outstanding examples of building or site rehabilitation, restoration, and adaptive reuse. Paducah’s Buddenbaum House was one of this year’s recipients of this award. The project nomination for this award was written and submitted by Dick Holland. Ray Black & Son managed the Buddenbaum House restoration for First Presbyterian Church. Craig Potts said of the Buddenbaum House project:

Bigger isn’t always better in the world of preservation. This is certainly true with the charming little building known as the Buddenbaum House, one of Paducah’s most successful preservation efforts. Built in the early 1850’s, it stands as one of Paducah’s oldest houses. After being seriously threatened with demolition twice, the house has been beautifully restored by the First Presbyterian Church of Paducah, lead by a team of an expert restoration architect and restoration contractors. The house is now a vital part of Paducah’s thriving cultural and tourism scene as a short-term rental space and is a shining example of historic preservation.

Thank you to the First Presbyterian Church of Paducah, and Chris Jones of Sherman Carter Barnhardt for allowing us to be a part of this very important project.

The Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation was chartered in 1979 to honor the late Mrs. Willis, the first executive director of the Kentucky Heritage Commission (now Kentucky Heritage Council), which was created by the state Legislature in 1966 following passage of the National Historic Preservation Act.