The Garden Club of America Preservation Medal

Richard Jenrette at Edgewater, Barrytown, NY.

Richard Jenrette at Edgewater, Barrytown, NY.

Richard Jenrette receives Historic Preservation Medal from The Garden Club of America

Baltimore (May 6, 2017) – Richard H. Jenrette, philanthropist and respected Wall Street leader, has received one of the highest honors bestowed by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Historic Preservation Medal.  The medal, presented at the GCA’s annual meeting here this evening, is awarded for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance.

Hailing his “exemplary national record as a preservationist,” the GCA said that “Jenrette’s story is one of a lifelong passion to save and meticulously preserve and restore houses and gardens, started as a hobby while he pursued a distinguished Wall Street career.”  Over the past 45 years, Jenrette has owned and restored a dozen historic houses, most dating from the early nineteenth century.  He also played a key leadership role in the revitalization of Charleston, South Carolina.

In the 12 historic homes, careful attention to restoration of the exteriors carried over to the interiors and a commitment to researching and furnishing the houses with period pieces, often by acquiring objects original to each of the houses.  Six of the restored properties have been given away or sold, but Jenrette has kept Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, North Carolina; Millford Plantation, Pinewood, South Carolina; Roper House, Charleston, South Carolina; Edgewater, Barrytown, New York; George F. Baker Houses, New York City; and Estate Cane Garden in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

The houses now are or will be preserved by Classical American Homes Preservation Trust (CAHPT), a 501(c)(3) educational organization founded by Jenrette in 1993.  The goal of CAHPT is to preserve, protect and open to the public examples of classical American architecture, surrounding landscapes and scenic trails, as well as the decorative arts from the first half of the nineteenth century.  The properties are open to the public for tours, with special events bringing them to life.  Each of the homes has an educational mission, helping to teach the history of their communities, the aspirations of those who built them and the heritage of America.  Roper House and Millford Plantation have National Historic Landmark designation, and the other four houses are on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Not only has he saved these magnificent places, he has accomplished saving their exterior historic context, as well as completing an extraordinary recreation of their historic interiors,” observed the GCA.

From the late 1960s, Jenrette played an important role in initiating and sustaining the rejuvenation of Charleston, providing leadership and resources to completely rebuild an aging Pre-Civil War hotel.  The Mills House Hotel, completed in 1970, was one of the first examples of the value of quality preservation in the city.  Later, Jenrette partnered with Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., on preservation projects at the College of Charleston.  Jenrette provided significant leadership and financial support to Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), considered by many to be the most important and successful U.S. preservation institution.

On Wall Street, Jenrette served as chairman of the board of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., from 1974-96, having been a founder of the firm in 1959.  He also is former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States.  Described by The New York Times as “the last gentleman on Wall Street,” Jenrette’s career has included service on numerous corporate boards of directors and philanthropic groups.

Jenrette is a former trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was founding chairman of its National Council, recruiting civic and corporate leaders and philanthropists to support the National Trust and preservation projects across the country.  He received the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award in 1996, the National Trust’s highest honor, and the Hadrian Award from the World Monuments Fund in 1998.

The GCA Medal for Historic Preservation was first awarded in 1973 to Mr. and Mrs. John H. G. Pell in recognition of their contributions at Fort Ticonderoga.  Other previous winners include individuations and organizations preserving the Biltmore Estate, Monticello, Mount Vernon, New York’s Central Park and numerous other national treasures.  The medal was endowed by Erin Bain Jones (1896-1974), member of Founders Garden Club, Dallas, and Elizabeth Work Kirby (1910-2007), Jupiter Island Garden Club, Hobe Sound, Florida.  The medal was designed by American sculptor Joseph Kiselewski.

Jenrette was nominated for the medal by the Green Spring Valley Garden Club of Ownings Mills, Maryland.

The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 200 clubs with nearly 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States.  Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement.  (www.gcamerica.org)

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