Historic Preservation Awards of Merit

The Historic Preservation Commission recognizes people, projects, and organizations with an outstanding commitment to historic preservation every year. Historic Preservation Awards of Merit are announced each May to commemorate National Historic Preservation Month.

Projects must be located in the city limits and have been completed within the last five years to be nominated. Work must be substantially completed by March 15 of the current year. Rehabilitation projects should follow the Secretary of the Interior Standards and projects outside of designated historic districts are encouraged. 

Award winners are announced in May and celebrated at the Historic Preservation Commission's May meeting. 

Award Categories

Community members can submit nominations in a variety of categories: 

  • Individuals or Institutions - Whose day-to-day, general preservation activities merit significant recognition OR who, as stewards of a historic property, have demonstrated excellence in ongoing preservation by the use of timely maintenance and repair.
  • Residential Property Projects - Demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Commercial, Institutional, or Government Property Projects - Projects demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Mixed-Use Projects (Commercial and Residential or others) - Demonstrate outstanding, completed exterior restoration or rehabilitation work or new sympathetic infill construction.
  • Interior Rehabilitation - Nominations in this category must have the owner’s permission and the nominator must be able to facilitate a viewing by the judges. “Before” photos are especially important in this category.
  • Infill or New Construction - Which complements the historic character of the surrounding buildings.
  • Innovative Solutions in Preservation - Award recognizes an outstanding and creative example of adaptive reuse, incorporating sensitive and creative solutions to issues of sustainability, and integration of accessibility improvements.
  • Archaeology - Open to individuals, institutions, or organizations, public or private, who merit recognition for their contributions to the preservation of Kalamazoo’s archaeological heritage.

Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation are ten basic principles created to help preserve the distinctive character of a historic building and its site, while allowing for reasonable change to meet new needs. 

The Standards (36 CFR Part 67) apply to historic buildings of all periods, styles, types, materials, and sizes. They apply to both the exterior and the interior of historic buildings. The Standards also encompass related landscape features and the building's site and environment as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction.  

The Standards are applied to projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility. 

  1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.

  2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.

  3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken. 

  4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.

  5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a historic property shall be preserved. 

  6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence. 

  7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. 

  8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken. 

  9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.  

  10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.