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Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards

The Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards recognize individuals, businesses and organizations for outstanding efforts on behalf of Oregon heritage and raise the quality of heritage-oriented activities. Nominations are encouraged for exceptional and meritorious work. Special consideration is given to the development of new ideas, approaches and innovations. 

In 2017, the Sally Donovan Award for Historic Cemetery Preservation was added to the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards program. Please use the application materials below to nominate a project, organization or person for outstanding contribution in the preservation of Oregon historic cemeteries.

Nominations for 2020 Heritage Excellence Awards may be submitted between December 2, 2019 and January 26, 2020.

Nomination Process:

1) Review the 2020 Award Nomination Information & Criteria

2) Select and complete the appropriate nomination form:

3) Submit nomination form and attachments to the Oregon Heritage Commission:

Send digital submissions to:
Beth Dehn, Heritage Commission Coordinator
Phone: (503) 986-0696
Email: Beth.Dehn@oregon.gov

Send physical submissions to:
Oregon Heritage Excellence Program
Oregon Heritage Commission
725 Summer St. NE, Suite C
Salem OR 97301

Previous Award Winners

Oregon Heritage Excellence Award winners and Oregon Heritage staff celebrate after the 2015 awards presentation.

Building a Better Community: The Canby Women's Heritage Trail, the first heritage trail in the state to focus on the accomplishments of women, with a multi-layered approach to community engagement that serves as a model for heritage outreach.
Cultural Resources Department of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, for 30 years of dedicated work as a department to preserve and celebrate the Tribes' cultural history, recently culminating in the Rise of the Collectors exhibit.
David Dittman, for reporting an archaeological find on private land and going above and beyond expectations to engage the State Historic Preservation Office and inspire the public with the rare find.
Ann & Owen Nicholson, for their critical role in providing Nehalem Valley Historical Society with a museum and archive in the Pine Grove Community Center.
Kylie Pine, for going above and beyond her professional capacity as curator at the Willamette Heritage Center to impact the community through teaching, volunteer work, board service, and publications related to local history.
Richard & Judith Wagner, for extraordinary research, writing, publications, and community engagement related to Coos Bay and North Bend history.
Salem Railroad Depot Restoration, an example of excellence in a preservation project spearheaded by the Oregon Department of Transportation that overcame challenges and merged multiple modes of transportation while rehabilitating an historic building.
The Agate, Jefferson County Historical Society's local history journal distributed through the Madras Pioneer Paper to keep "history alive" while the museum is closed.
John Goodenberger, for extraordinary dedication to preserving the physical and cultural heritage of Astoria through consultation, work with non-profits, and the creation of the Historic Preservation program at Clatsop Community College.
Museum at Warm Springs, for 25 years of extraordinary work preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and serving as a model for cultural institutions seeking to preserve and honor indigenous cultures.
Oregon Women Veterans Sculpture ‘the Lionesses,’ a memorial project in Springfield that honors women veterans and educates the community on the role of Oregon women in military combat, while providing a place for veterans to gather and reflect.
"Parting Shots: Minor White’s Images of Portland, 1938-1942," a public exhibition at the Architectural Heritage Center that paired Minor White’s photographs of Portland buildings later lost to demolition with architectural artifacts to encourage public understanding of architectural preservation.
Sharon Nesbit, for chronicling the history and events of greater East Multnomah County for over half a century, including advocating for the preservation of the Multnomah County Poor Farm, Edgefield.
Stories of Southern Oregon, Southern Oregon University's project hosted at http://soda.sou.edu to document heritage agriculture in Jackson and Josephine counties and serves as a prototype for further documentation work.
Taylor’s Drug & Fountain Building, an example of excellence in restoring a building to its historical roots with original materials and extreme care in downtown Independence.
Lionel Youst, for enriching the Coos Bay community as an active and vital historian, author, researcher and heritage advocate whose work spans heritage preservation efforts.
Valerie Vines Magee*, for being instrumental in safety measures and the beautification of the Nehalem American Legion Cemetery.
*Sally Donovan Award for Historic  Cemetery Preservation  

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s 2016 “Oregon Experience” Season
, for a year of exceptional programming, which resulted in showcase documentaries that promoted education and dialogue around remarkable citizens and underrepresented communities of the state.   

“15 Minutes Histories” Project, a cutting-edge collaboration between the Deschutes Public Library and the Deschutes County Historical Society that innovatively addressed the immediate access and long-term preservation needs of community-based stories in Central Oregon. 


Aimee Gorham Mural Conservation Project, an exemplary cooperative effort to preserve and interpret a uniquely Oregonian cultural asset, a 1930s WPA-era wood art mural in Portland’s Chapman Elementary School created by one of the state’s most important female artists.


John M. Tess, Portland, for a 40-year professional career built around increasingly significant and enduring contributions to the cause of preserving Oregon’s historic and architectural legacy.


Historic Columbia River Highway 2016 Centennial Celebration, a range of statewide stakeholders joined the Oregon Department of Transportation to host yearlong public programs and events as part of a once-in-a-century birthday bash for Oregon’s oldest scenic highway.


Vanport Mosaic Festival 2016, a groundbreaking, grassroots effort that utilized a multi-disciplinary approach through creative partnerships to bring Oregonians together to learn and talk about Vanport’s history.


Kelly Haverkate, for her inspirational and tireless commitment as a Main Street program volunteer, whose work resulted in a visionary, transformative, and sustainable revitalization of the city of Dayton’s downtown, a gem in the Willamette Valley. 



Redmond’s Union High School Rehabilitation Project, a statewide model for restoration and adaptive reuse of a locally treasured historic building, honoring its storied past while beginning a new chapter as the home of City Hall. 


Dorothy Brandner*, for over a decade of extraordinary volunteerism and estimable leadeership in the areas of preservation, interpretation, and historical research while serving the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery.


*Sally Donovan Award for Historic Cemetery Preservation






University of Oregon Libraries Oregon Digital Newspaper project, for its cooperative ground-breaking efforts to create the project and increase public access to important historic documents.


Oregon Archaeology Society, in recognition of its decades of work education the public about archaeology, preserving cultural resources, and advancing archaeological knowledge.


JS Cooper Block Restoration, in recognition of the work of Florin Drutu, Bodie Bemrose, and their partners for outstanding renovation of the JS Cooper Block and its rejuvenation of downtown Independence.


BA Beierle, for her enduring and collaborative efforts to sustain the historic resources of Corvallis and Benton County.


Gary Dielman, in recognition of his decades-long work preserving and writing about the history of Baker County.


Sally Donovan, for her dedication and outstanding work on behalf of Oregon’s heritage resources.

t, Eugene and Springfield, for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s community heritage approach to design and naming.
Balch Gulch Bridge Project, in recognition of the dedication and work by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to restore this historic 1905 bridge.
Morrow County, for the creative and important restoration of its historic courthouse tower and clock in Heppner.
Gayle Caldarazzo-Doty, Doug Doty and others for their vision, dedication and success in rehabilitating the Roth-McGilchrist Building in Salem.
Pop U
p Museum Poster Project, for the creative and cooperative approach to making history publicly available by the Lane County Historical Society and the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House in Eu
Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives, for its outstanding work to digitize and place online its audiovisual collections.
Shirley and Milt Nelson, in recognition of their 20 years of developing heritage resources on the South Coast.
Rosemary Johnson, for more than 25 years of outstanding work in preserving and developing heritage resources in Astoria and Clatsop County.



Oregon State Archives, for perseverance, creativity and outstanding professionalism in reclaiming and digitizing audio from the 1967 Beach Bill hearings.

Charles Philpot, for outstanding leadership and vision in developing Antique Powerland at Brooks into an active heritage site.

City of Cottage Grove Preservation Plan Advisory Committee, for creating a comprehensive historic preservation plan with the community's heritage organizations.

Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Audio Preservation Project, for its exceptional attention to cultural heritage and professional practices in digitizing older audio recordings.

Illuminate Oregon City, for its innovate approach to historic site rehabilitation, economic development and public art display.

Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center, for the decade-long grassroots effort to convert and restore a historic house-turned nightclub into a maritime center.

s, for their dedication and innovative practices maintaining and restoring historical markers across the state.

Sand Mountain Society, for rehabilitating historic fire lookouts in western Oregon, providing interpretation about the structures, and in promoting compatible use of nearby lands.



Don Ivy, Coos Bay, for his outstanding leadership to increase understanding, appreciation, and perpetuation of traditional cultures and culturally important sites throughout Oregon.

House, Lane County, as an exceptional example of an extensive, successful restoration project of a historically significant structure.
Kay Holbo, Eugene, for her extraordinary leadership in the preservation of Oregon’s historic cemeteries, and especially the Eugene Masonic Cemetery.
Oregon Archaeology, written by University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History archaeologists, for the book’s outstanding contribution to the field of archaeology in the state.
“Coming Home: Voices of Return and Resettlement, 1945-1965” exhibition and public programs by Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Portland, as an exceptional example of an innovative and community-based approach to exhibition development.
“History: Made by You” project, Medford by the Southern Oregon Historical Society, as an excellent example of a relevant, successful, and unique outreach program that has generated unprecedented community response.
Springdale School Restoration project, Corbett, as an example of an outstanding historic preservation project that benefits the local community.
Willamette River (Oregon City) Bridge Rehabilitation project, Oregon City, as an extraordinary example of a successful restoration of a historically significant bridge.


Astoria Bicentennial Celebration, Astoria, for its year-long success marking Astoria’s 200 years of history and heritage.
Bob Boyd, Bend, for his scholarship, creativity and enthusiasm in helping people forge meaningful connections with the history of the High Desert region for 30 years.
Chambers Railroad Bridge, Cottage Grove, as an exceptional example of the preservation of a unique and significant cultural landmark that boosts heritage tourism, local transportation, and heritage efforts.
Clatsop County Housing Authority, Astoria, for its excellent work in making the Owens-Adair building safer and more energy efficient while retaining the building’s historic character.
Oregon City 2011 Citywide Historic Building Survey, Oregon City, as an outstanding example of integrating historic resources and historic building survey work into comprehensive planning efforts.
Penner, Astoria, for her efforts in preserving, promoting, and disseminating the history of Clatsop County and fostering an appreciation for local history.
World War II Veterans Historic Highway, Central Oregon, as an outstanding partnership to honor World War II veterans and promote the history and heritage of Oregon’s involvement in the war effort.
Luper Cemetery Preservation and Restoration Project, Eugene, for its extraordinary efforts to preserve and restore the integrity of the historic cemetery.
The Timberline Lodge Partnership of the U.S. Forest Service, The Friends of Timberline, and R.L.K. and Co., for their outstanding public/private collaboration to preserve and manage a national historic landmark.
Clatsop Community College/Columbia Pacific Preservation, for the collaboration that resulted in the establishment of certificate and degree programs in historic preservation at Clatsop CC and in a nonprofit entity that both supports and benefits from those programs.
Paul Caruana and Brian Faherty, Astoria, for their collective improvements on several historic buildings, and the even larger impact their work has had on the renewed viability of downtown Astoria.
Marcia Allen, Cottage Grove, for her lifetime accomplishments in researching, interpreting and promoting the history and heritage of Cottage Grove.
Patsy Jones, Alsea, for her exceptional work to inspire interest in the documentation, preservation and celebration of local Oregon history.
Neal Maine, Seaside, for his outstanding contributions in the preservation of Native American archaeological sites on the northern Oregon coast.
In Pursuit of a Dream, a project produced by the Oregon-California Trails Association that is an outstanding example of immersive experiential learning about Oregon history.
Marlene McDonald, Philomath, for her enduring contributions and commitment to Philomath and Benton County history.
Oregon Century 1.5, Medford, a year-long series of programs by Ron Brown and KDRV-TV that educates and entertains Oregonians about their history. 
Portland Railroad Preservation Association, Portland, for more than three decades of preserving and promoting railroad heritage and railroad history.
Union Street Railroad Project, Salem, for the preservation of the 1912 bridge and its conversion to an important bicycle and pedestrian way by the City of Salem.
Lord and Schryver Conservancy, Salem. For preserving and interpreting the legacy of landscape architects Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver.
City of Echo. For preserving and developing the heritage and history of Echo and the surrounding area.
Oregon Civil War Graves Registration Project. For identifying, inventorying and marking the graves of Civil War veterans in Oregon. The project is led by Baker Camp #6 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Owl Ridge Trails Project. For a multi-disciplinary effort increasing knowledge and understanding of the prehistory and history of the South Santiam and Blue River headwaters. The project was a collaboration of Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project Inc. and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, which worked with several other organizations. 
Roger Brandt, Cave Junction. For multi-faceted efforts to educate, promote and raise public awareness about history and heritage in southwest Oregon.
Charlene Brown, Willamina. For her tireless efforts in the founding, development and operation of the Willamina Museum of Local History.
Reeve and Lyn Hennion, Buncom. For preserving, promoting and advocating for the history and heritage of Buncom and southern Oregon.

Dirk Siedlecki, Eagle Point. For leadership in the preservation and development of historic cemeteries, including the Jacksonville Cemetery.
Carnegie Library Restoration Project, Baker City. For creating a successful public-private partnership to preserve, restore and reuse the historic 1909 library building.
Local Tribal History Education Program, Coos County. For the collaborative efforts to bring knowledge and appreciation of the present and past cultures of the area's tribes to students and teachers in Coos County.
Oregon Music Project, Aurora Colony Historical Society. For preserving, documenting and restoring historic Oregon music, and enhancing public access to it through technology and public performance.
Venerable Group, Portland. For its efforts to restore vacant and underutilized historic buildings so they become catalysts for new commercial activity and neighborhood redevelopment.
Mary Gallagher, Corvallis. For outstanding individual achievement in the combined fields of heritage, preservation and museology.
Leland Gilsen, Salem. For the promotion of knowledge about and appreciation for Oregon's prehistoric past for more than 30 years.
David and Sarah Schlect, Wasco. For their stewardships, and that of their neighbors and predecessors, of the highlighly significant McDonald's Ford section of the Oregon Trail.
Rebecca Soules, Coos Bay. For her demonstrated dedication to preserving and interpreting Oregon heritage through historic cemeteries, Century Farms and Heritage Trees.
Higher Ground Documentary Project, Boardman. For preserving stories from the Boardman community relocation of the 1960s.
Benton County. For its commitment to preserving the county's heritage and sharing it with the public, and for serving as a model for other counties.
Harrisburg Museum Board of Directors, Harrisburg. For its development of Heritage Park and serving as a bridge between the farming community and city residents.
Jacksonville Woodlands Association, Jacksonville. For protecting the natural and cultural heritage of Historic Jacksonville since 1989 through the establishment of the Jacksonville Woodlands Natural Park and Trail System and its related programs.
Mission Mill Museum, Salem. For the renovation and transformation of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill building during its Saving Salem's American Treasure project.
Oregon Military Museum, Clackamas. For growing Living History Day as an event that presents Oregon history in a hands-on, easy-to-understand fashion.
Oregon National Guard. For its outstanding leadership and support during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration.
ural Institute, Pendleton. For the groundbreaking book Wiyaxayxt As Days Go By Wiyaakaa'awn.
Tillamook Forest Center, Oregon Department of Forestry. For the successful planning and development of the Tillamook Forest Center as a place for forest history and heritage.
Larry Landis, Corvallis. For his enthusiasm and commitment to preserving and making accessible archival materials for all people of Oregon, and for the development of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and the Northwest Digital Archives.
Julie Reese, Adams. For her dedication, advocacy and vision for heritage in Umatilla County.
Carol Harbison Samuelson, Medford. For providing outstanding assistance to Southern Oregon history for more than 20 years.
Colleen Sump, St. Paul. For the development of outstanding interpretive and educational programs at Champoeg State Heritage Area.
Sara Swanberg, Blodgett. For the creation and development of the Preserving Oregon's Artistic Heritage educational video series.