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Historical preservation given applause at annual ceremony

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Kathy Macefield, a retired city of Helena planner, was honored for her efforts on behalf of historic preservation.

Macefield was this year’s recipient of the Herb Jacobson Award for Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation.

Plans for the ceremony also included the unveiling of the new National Register of Historic Places sign for the City-County Building.

Creation of a lifetime achievement award was suggested by Macefield more than 20 years ago for a person who displayed a deep and abiding commitment to historic preservation, said Pam Attardo, the Helena/Lewis and Clark County heritage preservation officer who is with the Lewis and Clark County Heritage Tourism Council.

“It’s really been my pleasure and my privilege to be able to work with this community,” Macefield said after being presented with a bouquet of flowers and receiving applause from the more than 50 people who filled the commission meeting room in the City-County Building.

“To be able to share my love of the community with all of you in recognizing the importance of our history in how we see our community and how we love our community, I’m just blessed,” she said.

Attardo’s introduction described Macefield as “one of the most generous, dedicated, selfless and patient people I know.”

Despite retirement, Macefield has remained active in historic preservation work and is a member of the Lewis and Clark County Historical Society, Attardo said.

Macefield also and serves on the board of preservation for Forestvale Cemetery and volunteers with the Benton Avenue Cemetery Association.

Macefield was also among those who helped with the renovation of the Unionville schoolhouse – a project that was among this year’s four Helena Tourism Council’s annual preservation awards.

The Montana History Foundation, Lewis and Clark County and the county’s Historical Society were all acknowledged for their roles in the exterior renovation of the building.

This year’s ceremony was the 22nd such event. In addition to awards for work on the one-room wooden building that provided a school for Unionville’s children until it closed in 1955, three other projects were honored.

The renovation of the Helena YWCA earned a historic preservation award as did the four people who were instrumental in the planning and creation of the mural pained as part of Helena’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Forestvale Cemetery’s new entrance was also lauded by the Heritage Tourism Council.

A nearly $2.6 million renovation of the historic three-story brick YWCA building was completed just before the end of 2015. Diamond Construction, SMA Architects and the Montana Department of Commerce, along with the YMCA and city of Helena, were all recognized for their roles in the project.

The award does not go to just one person but to all those who shared in the project, said Kellie Goodwin McBride, the YMCA’s executive director who was hired in 2009.

She noted in particular Sharon Haugen, the city’s community development director, who a few years ago found the deed restriction that saved the building from a sale.

The restriction limited said the property could only be “used in service to women and girls,” which was a condition the potential buyer couldn’t meet, Attardo noted in her introduction.

“Because of that ,Sharon saved the building,” McBride said, “and we were able to proceed.”

“This community came together to make the YWCA what it was originally. It was originally a home that had dignity for women who worked in the community. And over the years it became just a very sad, depressed place and now when you walk in … it’s just this vibrant building that is a home. It says that women are welcome, women can make a change in their life and they can move forward and we’re there for them.”

Jason Davis with SMA Architects applauded McBride for being “the driving force behind this” and Diamond Construction for making possible the renovation of the building that was constructed in 1919.

Helping fund the project were three federal grants amounting to $1.6 million, said a representative of the state Department of Commerce who added, “these are your monies at work in your community.”

The new entrance to Forestvale Cemetery earned an award and acknowledgement went to Bjerke Architects, Diamond Construction and Big Sky Masonry of Belgrade.

While the historic entrance on Forestvale Road continues to be the main entrance for the cemetery, founded in 1890 as the Helena Cemetery, Attardo said, the Forestvale board of trustees wanted an additional entrance off McHugh Lane to accommodate future expansion.

“The new entrance to the cemetery pays homage to the original existing entrance in its design, yet does not give false sense of history that makes the viewer believe that it was always there since the founding of the cemetery,” Attardo continued from her prepared remarks.

The new entrance was completed in the spring of this year at a cost of $130,000.

Sarah Elkins, the assistant to the city manager/public affairs specialist, Dennis McCahon, Janet Welsh and Ellen Baumler, interpretive historian with the Montana Historical Society, were all honored for their work in the creation of the mural for part of the city’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2015.

McCahon, a retired planner and artist, offered to donate a sketch for the project, Attardo said in her introduction of the project. Welsh, a decorative and mural painted and Baumler created a committee to plan the logistics for a mural and events for its unveiling.

McCahon, his wife, Charlotte, and Welsh sketched the mural and the painting began. Calligraphy for the text panels, drafted by Baumler, and painted by Elkins.

Al Knauber can be reached at


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I am a staff writer at the Independent Record covering primarily city and county governments.

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