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Human Systems Research, Inc. (HSR), a Las Cruces nonprofit, got a belated 50th birthday present, and the City of Las Cruces received another high honor from the state of New Mexico, as both received 2022 heritage preservation awards from the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee in May.
The committee’s lifetime achievement award went to HSR for outstanding achievement in cultural resource management, according to the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division’s (NMHPD) website. NMHPD is part of the state Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA).
HSR is a scientific and educational institution that has pursued basic and applied research in archaeology and related scientific and historic fields since 1972.
The award was presented to HSR Executive Director Deborah M. Dennis and associate directors David T. Kirkpatrick Karl W. Laumbach.
“HS is honored to receive its second New Mexico Historic Preservation award,” Dennis said. “This one feels extraordinary because HSR was nominated for the 2022 award by the entire archaeological staff of NMHPD. We are proud to celebrate HSR's 50th anniversary NMDCA, the Cultural Properties Review Committee and NMHPD.”
The committee’s heritage organization award was presented to the “City of Las Cruces and Supporting Citizens … who have made an outstanding contribution to (the city’s) preservation, rehabilitation and restoration.”
The city “enacted its first historic preservation ordinance in 2019 after years of grass roots efforts,” the committee said. It applied for and became the state’s newest certified local government, with National Park Service certification in 2021. The award “recognizes the contributions of the city and individuals to the spirit and ethos in developing a historic preservation program.”
Individuals recognized include Heather Pollard, “for her long-standing efforts in support of the preservation and restoration of the Amador Hotel and serving as representative of this effort”; Irene Oliver-Lewis “for her advocacy in the preservation of the South Mesquite neighborhood and support in the rehabilitation and reuse of the historic Court Junior High School”; Faith Hutson “for her long-standing involvement in preserving the South Mesquite Historic district”; Robert Cruise “for efforts to restore numerous buildings in the Alameda Depot and Mesquite Street Historic districts”; former Las Cruces City Councilor Greg Smith “for his support in creating a historic preservation ordinance and advocacy for historic preservation” (Smith is now executive director of the Doña Ana Arts Council); and the City of Las Cruces, represented by Historic Preservation Specialist Troy Ainsworth, “for its commitment to establishing a historic preservation program.”
“The rationale for the recognition afforded to several individuals and the City of Las Cruces is largely predicated upon the (state Cultural Properties Review) Committee’s phrase ‘spirit and ethos,’” Ainsworth said. “Historic preservation is nurtured upon the concept of sustainable architecture and the productive use of buildings; this view operates in stark opposition to the notion of disposable buildings in our cities. Little by little, the long-standing practice of prioritizing demolition and demolition by neglect is moving toward an appreciation of our local built environment to ensure Las Cruces remains a viable city as evident in the care we provide to the place we live. The committee recognizes this spirit here in Las Cruces and felt it proper to acknowledge those efforts,” Ainsworth said.
“I am elated that the City of Las Cruces has been recognized for its progress in developing a historic preservation program and, especially, for the recognition of colleagues who have worked so many years to save historic buildings and districts of the city,” said Dennis, who, like Pollard, is a member of the Amador Hotel Foundation Board of Directors. “We are indebted to them for preserving our cultural heritage.”
“The efforts of the city and these citizens illustrate the importance of historic preservation at the local level,” the review committee said, “where historic preservation was once highlighted in individual efforts, it is now a matter of public policy.”
“The Cultural Properties Review Committee was created by the state Cultural Properties Act to serve as a professional policy-making/advisory board for historic preservation in New Mexico,” according to https://nmhistoricpreservation.org/cprc.html.