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City of Gainesville presents 2022 Historic Preservation Awards to six community advocates

From l-r: Heritage Champion Award recipient Pastor Gerard Duncan; E. L. Roy Hunt Award recipient Roy Hunt; Preservation Champion Award recipient Karen Kirkman; Mary Besalski Barrow Award recipient Giovanna Holbrook; Outstanding Design/Compatible Infill Award to Trimark Properties accepted by John Flemming; Vivian Washington Filer Award recipient Vivian Filer. Photo courtesy Matheson History Museum

Press release from City of Gainesville

BY SUZETTE COOK

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Historic Preservation Officer Kathleen Kauffman already knew of the longtime community advocates for historic preservation when she relocated to Gainesville for her position at the City in 2021. She attended the University of Florida where she’d earned a master’s degree in historic preservation, and through that program, Kauffman learned from UF Law Professor E. L. Roy Hunt.

Hunt taught “Historic Preservation Law Seminar” at the UF Levin College of Law where he twice served at acting dean in 1970 and 1980. He began teaching at UF in 1962, and in 1976, he developed the specialty course, which he taught for more than 35 years. The course was one of Hunt’s many accomplishments.

Hunt was the lead author of the 1987 book, “Historic Preservation in Florida,” which included the chapter, “How to Write a Historic Preservation Ordinance.” He has served on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Board of Advisors and as president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. He was appointed by Governors Graham and Chiles to the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board and also served as chair of the Florida Historic Preservation Advisory Council (now the Florida Historical Commission). 

The original Gainesville Historic Preservation Ordinance, adopted by the Gainesville City Commission in 1978, was a result of Hunt and Professor Blair Reeves’ first session taught of “Historic Preservation Law Seminar.”

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“My first group of students drafted the historic preservation (ordinance) for the City of Gainesville,” Hunt said, “And saw it through passage by the commission.” 

Throughout his career, Hunt has penned preservation ordinances for communities throughout Florida and beyond. And so have his former students.

Kauffman remembers the course Hunt taught in 1996 well. “I was in class with all law students and I think only two of us were historic preservation master’s students,” she said.

Decades after graduation, an accomplished Kauffman was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Florida Historical Commission (FHC) in 2021. Her experience as principal at KSK Preservation; Historic Preservation Chief for Miami-Dade County; Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Miami; and Executive Director of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and her current role with the City of Gainesville earned her a spot.

The FHC was established by the 2001 Florida Legislature, “to enhance public participation and involvement in the preservation and protection of the state’s historic and archaeological sites and properties.”

Kauffman later drafted preservation laws for the City of Fort Pierce and the Town of Lake Park in Palm Beach County.

“I’m sure his other students have gone on to do the same,” she said about Hunt’s legacy. “He continued to teach it year after year to preservation law students,” Kauffman said. “That is an incredible thing to come out of Gainesville. A lot of students have gone on to write preservation ordinances.”

In a recent interview at his home in Gainesville, Hunt, 88, believes his biggest accomplishment in preservation is his role in securing two National Historic Landmarks designated for Alachua County: the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Home and Farm, and Dudley Farm.

When Kauffman and the City’s Historic Preservation Board starting planning an annual award event, it was Kauffman who conceived of the E. L. Roy Hunt Award that “recognizes an individual who has been an exceptional leader and advocate in the field of historic preservation over the course of many years, or throughout a career.”

The award description states that it is “Established in honor of E. L. Roy Hunt, Distinguished Service Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Florida, historian, author, and preservation advocate, whose passionate advocacy for Florida’s historic resources has extended over the past six decades.”

Hunt was presented the award May 25 during a ceremony at the Matheson History Museum.

Five other awards were presented: The Preservation Champion Award was presented to Karen Kirkman for her passion preserving the history of the Haile Plantation neighborhood; the Heritage Champion Award went to Pastor Gerard Duncan for his work with the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida to reconstruct Old Mount Carmel Baptist Church history and restore the building; the Outstanding Design/Compatible Infill Award went to Trimark Properties, a development firm that has contributed to the growth of the city in recent years while still respecting the charm and sense of community for which Gainesville neighborhoods are known; the Mary Besalski Barrow Award went to Giovanna Holbrook who began restoring houses in Gainesville in 1978 and created the Sweetwater Branch Inn; and the Vivian Washington Filer Award went to namesake Vivian Filer, a long-time Alachua County educator, who has volunteered tirelessly for equality, justice, healthcare, and preservation issues. 

Hunt said he has been honored with many awards throughout his career, but this local award means more to him than most.

“It is very gratifying to be honored in your own community,” Hunt said. 

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