- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

What do “CSI Miami” and historic preservation have in common? If the roar of the crowd at Tuesday night’s fourth annual gala for the National Trust/HGTV RestoreAmerica program was any indication, quite a bit.

It turns out that series director Jerry Bruckheimer is a National Trust for Historic Preservation trustee and donated a walk-on role for an upcoming episode as an auction item. The price of fame? $7,000. But the auction was only one part of an event that showcased efforts to preserve the nation’s historic and cultural legacy.

“Today we see restoring older buildings as a tool for community revitalization,” said National Trust President Richard Moe. “It’s not just about saving a single building anymore.” The evening also honored five preservation-minded individuals and corporations, including Ambassador Victor Ashe, who successfully revitalized downtown Knoxville, Tenn., when he served as mayor there, and Valspar Corp., which created a range of historically based paint colors for consumers.

American Express Co., honored for its long-standing promotion of historic preservation and cultural tourism, made a $10 million commitment to the cause through the introduction of its Partners in Preservation program.

“The needs are so great and the resources so scarce, there has to be a partnership of like-minded people working together toward a common goal,” Amex President Al Kelly said in announcing the gift.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, honored for his advocacy for the Longfellow House and other historical projects in his home state of Massachusetts, happily rubbed bipartisan elbows with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Sen. Trent Lott. Historian David McCullough circulated among numerous fans, as did Mary Chapin Carpenter, who provided a musical interlude.

“When you’ve lost a lot of your history, you especially want to preserve what’s left,” said Mr. Lott, whose 19th-century Pascagoula, Miss., home fell victim to Hurricane Katrina.

Political spouses helped engender the night’s bipartisan spirit, with Patricia Lott, Jackie Clegg Dodd, Jean Hastert and Stephene Moore serving as co-chairs of the event.

The evening went off without a hitch, although Fox News Channel’s Juliet Huddy, who emceed, had some difficulty wrapping her tongue around the names of a few of the National Trust properties and tour destinations.

It took honoree LaToya Cantrell to bring the crowd to its feet. The New Orleans resident has spearheaded grass-roots efforts to restore her historic Broadmoor neighborhood in the face of overwhelming devastation.

“The National Trust and HGTV have given me the motivation to continue the struggle,” she told the crowd. “It’s not just about me; it’s about my community.”

Lisa Rauschart

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