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Preservation Awards were a Blast!

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1By now you all know that Greenbelt Theatre won $75,000 in the Partners in Preservation contest, thanks to the overwhelming support the theater earned from the community and the City of Greenbelt, too – the theater’s owners.  Which means that WE own the theater, and the spirit of supporting OUR theater really showed in our fifth-place finish for votes, especially in competition with some big guns (National Cathedral, Mount Vernon, etc).

I’ve blogged before (as the designated “blogger ambassador” for the theater and also just because) so this time I’ll show you some shots from the awards event this morning, and some parting impressions of the whole campaign.

Partners in Preservation DC Metro Area Grant Awards Presentation



Above, the opening slide showed the 24 competing historic sites, which we learned were chosen from about 100 that were initially studied.  Our theater is in the top row, center.

Partners in Preservation DC Metro Area Grant Awards Presentation

Eagerly waiting for the event to start are Celia Craze and Beverly Palau with the City of Greenbelt, showing their support.  They already knew that the theater had won $75,000 – because I told them!  Yes, one occasional benefit of blogging is being given media a pack at events you’re blogging about, and the media pack for this competition revealed all the winners and the amounts they won.  I had to swear Celia and Beverly to secrecy, though – the info was embargoed until the event began at 10:00 a.m.

It all happened at the historic Decatur House on H Street, N.W., just off Lafayette Park.

Vincent Gray at Partners in Preservation Awards Presentation


The speeches were short and sweet, starting with representatives of Partners in Preservation and American Express (the primary donor), plus DC Mayor Vincent Gray.  Maryland and Virginia governors were invited and served as honorary chairs (as did Gray) but did not attend.

The top winner was, to no one’s surprise, the National Cathedral, which earned the most points via voting and social media.  They received $100,000, as did Mount Vernon, came in a close second.  All winners are listed here.



The 13 winning sites were each introduced in turn and here’s the slide announcing Greenbelt’s win.


Partners in Preservation Awards Presentation


People representing each site stood and applauded with the audience as their site was announced and here’s a shot of Megan Searing Young sitting down again.  She joined Celia and Beverly just in time for the announcement.

Parting Shots

Overall and in every detail, I found the PIP campaign to be extremely well done.  In my eight years of blogging I’ve been approached by dozens of campaigns trying to use social media to further their interests and none has come close to exhibiting the savvy shown by the PIP organizers.

And I’m betting we’ll see more cause marketing like this by corporations who can multiply their exposure exponentially by having the public participate through social media.  American Express has run this program in several cities before D.C. and has donated over $10 million for the cause of historic preservation.

For the competing sites and their supporters, the program was a win on so many levels, especially for a community like Greenbelt that’s so closely identified with the historic site.  Greenbelters really rallied for the cause.  Once again, the Little Town that Could showed its stuff and we’re all feeling an extra dose of civic pride about now.  Not to mention more enthusiasm and appreciation for the theater itself.

Another clear winner is the cause of historic preservation generally and specifically the preservation of the 24 sites we learned a bit about over the last two weeks, some of which I’ll be making an effort to visit.   I’ve heard great things about the Darby Store.

It was all such fun, and with such a happy ending.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

  1. Michelle
    | Reply

    So great! I would note, though, that the Greenbelt Theatre’s cause was supported by a much wider audience than the town itself. Many folks spread the word via community listservs and their own personal network of friends, family and acquaintances. Congrats to Greenbelt and thanks to everyone far and wide that helped the cause!

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