Preserve America

Preserve America is a White House initiative announced by First Lady Laura Bush on March 3, 2003. Developed in cooperation with a number of Federal agency partners to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation and enjoyment of our priceless cultural and natural heritage, it includes recognition and designation of Preserve America Communities, including municipalities, counties, Indian tribes and urban neighborhoods.

The Irvington Development Organization, in partnership with the Irvington Historical Society, the Historic Irvington Community Council and the city of Indianapolis, applied for the Preserve America Program in late 2005 to create a web-accessible map of the entire community to assist in the administration of the district and in public participation in preservation; perform feasibility studies to assist commercial property owners in marketing several vacant historic buildings in the district; and to serve as a model for marketing historic structures.

In a ceremony held on Capitol Hill in March 2006, the First Lady announced a number of new Preserve America Communities, including the first five Preserve America Community Neighborhood designations: The District, the Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood in which Mrs. Bush first unveiled the Neighborhoods program in July 2005; Bell Court and Gratz Park, both in Lexington, Kentucky; Historic Portland, in Louisville, Kentucky; and (drum roll, please) our very own Irvington!

We met the criteria for being a distinct neighborhood within a large city or city-county area with a population of 200,000 or more. While the First Lady has now designated more than 500 communities — and nine neighborhoods — as Preserve America communities, Irvington remains the only neighborhood in Indiana to have received this special honor, which comes with $42,000 in grant money.

IDO’s portion is $5,500 to prepare feasibility studies of several historically significant buildings and market vacant properties in the Historic Irvington Business District. Other Preserve America projects currently underway include the web-accessible map mentioned above and applications to include Irvington Terrace, Pleasanton and the rest of the neighborhood north of Pleasant Run Parkway — designated as the North Irvington Gardens Historic District — on the National Register of Historic Places.