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Madison Trust for Historic Preservation gives 2008 awards for preservation
Coombs House, 902 Garfield St.
Credit:Madison Trust for Historic Preservation

How fitting that the crowd of 130 downtown lovers rose to their feet Thursday night to applaud the selection of Katherine Rankin for the annual "preservation advocacy" award granted by the >a href=>Madison Trust for Historic Preservation.

Rankin, for 29 years the city's preservation planner, has had "a tremendous impact documenting and preserving Madison's historic architecture," as the group's president James Westring told the Orpheum Theatre gathering.

The award was richly deserved, given Rankin's stalwart role in providing the historical context for virtually every downtown preservation issue over the past three decades.

Rankin, in her remarks, said her work was sometimes treated with "benign neglect" by city officials, but she praised her current bosses -- planning chief Mark Olinger and principal planner Bill Fruhling -- for championing historic preservation in downtown revitalization.

This, of course, is more or less the mission of the Madison Trust, which should give itself an award for "preservation advocacy." For 34 years, the group has been in the forefront of inventorying the city's historic buildings, educating the public with neighborhood tours, pushing for landmarking status of significant building, opposing demolitions and applauding historically sensitive development.

On this last point, the trust gave out five awards this year for historically sensitive development.

1. Residential Restoration
Coombs House
902 Garfield St.
Owners: Jennifer and Christian Collins
Contractors: Matt Christensen, Christensen Construction; John Zafari, Early Bird Painting
The 1901 home in the Vilas neighborhood was a student rental w hen the Collins bought it in 2007. Using Historic Home Owner's Tax Credits, they repaired the exterior, replaced the electrical system, updated the interior and painted.

2. Compatible New Construction
Jacobs II House Studio/Carport
3995 Shawn Tr., Middleton
Owners: John and Elizabeth Moore
Design: Ed Linville with Jay Jensen
Engineering: Bob Corey, Arnold & O'Sheridan
This 1948 Usonian home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright had an eyesore outbuilding that was redesigned along Wrightian lines as a carport and studio.

3. Sensitive Addition
University of Wisconsin-Madison Mechanical Engineering Building
1513 University Ave.
Design: Zimmerman Architectural Studios
Contractor: David Keating, Miron Construction
This stately 1930 Italian Renaissance-style building added 155,000 sq. ft. of space but still maintained its original style through the matching of existing materials and sensitive design.

4. Compatible New Construction
Few Street garages
208 North Few St. and 1151 East Johnson St.
Owners: Andy Fielding and Leila Harris
Fielding built new garages for his 1911 bungalow and the adjacent Queen Anne home in a fashion that complemented the style and craftsmanship of the original houses.

5. Award: Adaptive Reuse
Samba Restaurant, in the Woman's Building
204 W. Gilman St.
Owner: Jongjean Lee
Design: Melissa Destree and Conor Nelan
Contractors: Cold Spring Design; Robb Stone, JDR Engineering; and James Critchfield, Wyldewood Construction
The Madison Trust fought the proposed demolition of the building and helped secure its landmark status in 2004. The group praised the owner for not succumbing "to the pervasive myth that owning a landmarked building would restrict her plans" to remake the space into a contemporary restaurant.

The complete text of the awards presentations is available in the related downloads at right.

The keynote speech was given by UW-Madison landscape architect professor Arnold Alanen, who made the difficult argument that the much-hated Modernist buildings on campus -- including Humanities, Van Vleck and Helen C. White -- are worthy of preservation for their historical significance.

Alanen admitted though that they are buildings you have to learn to love.

Photos of the 2008 award winners are available in the photo gallery above, and more galleries of the award winners from 2001-07 are provided online by the Madison Trust.

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