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Founders lunch honors five

Submitted by Kyle Troutman on June 2, 2011 – 2:50 pmNo Comment

The four signers of the Historic Preservation Alliance’s articles of incorporation will be in Little Rock in May to celebrate the non-profit’s 30th anniversary.

Preservationist Carl Miller, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System Bobby Roberts, founding president Parker Westbrook, architect Charles and the late Kirby Smith will be honored at the 11:30 a.m. May 5 with a founders’ luncheon.

At the Albert Pike Memorial Temple, David Pryor is the master of ceremonies, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Robert Moore, Representative John Charles Edwards and Little rock Mayor Mark Stodola, past president of the Alliance, will also be in attendance.

The Alliance was created in 1981 to preserve the use of historical and cultural places in Arkansas.

“We work with properties on South Main Street in Little Rock, also in El Dorado and Dumas [among others],” said Vannesa McKuin, the Alliance’s executive director. “Most of our properties are in historic commercial districts.”

May is national preservation month, as well as Arkansas heritage month, which McKuin said is perfect timing for an event celebrating the Alliance’s efforts toward preservation and restoration. The two-and-a-half day conference will attract many figures looking to help in the Alliance’s cause, focusing on education and advocacy for state-level preservation legislation.

The event will celebrate three main accomplishments of the Alliance. In 1987, the Alliance worked to pass legislation establishing a real-estate transfer tax, allowing the state to fund the Arkansas Historical Preservation Program; they play a large part of the Main Street Arkansas Program, also funded through the real-estate transfer tax, which works to revitalize historic commercial districts; and in 2009 the successfully established a rehabilitation tax credit for those who revitalize historice properties.

“Right now we’re working on out Most Endangered Places List (MEPL),” McKuin said, “Which is a list of properties facing foreclosure or could even be demolished.”

The Alliance is looking to the future to find ways to strengthen programs like the MEPL. With funds raised in a January banquet, an awards gala honoring Parker Westbrook with the lifetime achievement award, the Alliance is starting the Arkansas Preservation Foundation, which will work as a funding source for non-profits who wish to by or secure endangered properties.

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