CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
April 24, 2009 – The 2009 Arthur H. Mattingly Award in Historic Preservation was presented April 18 to John Bry, an outstanding alumnus of Southeast Missouri State University’s Historic Preservation Program who is currently chief operating officer and director of operations of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy in New York.
Dr. Steven Hoffman, professor of history and coordinator of Southeast’s Historic Preservation Program, said the award is given to recognize achievement in the field of historic preservation by graduates of Southeast’s Historic Preservation Program.
Bry, this year’s award recipient, earned his bachelor of science degree in historic preservation in 1995, completing his internship with the Indiana Main Street Program. His current position is with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, a not-for-profit, membership-based, community organization started in 1978 as the Friends of the Olmsted Parks. It entered a public/private partnership with the City of Buffalo in 1995, and in 2004 executed a City-County-Conservancy agreement to become the first not-for-profit organization in the nation to manage a park system.
Hoffman said the Conservancy’s mission is to broaden awareness of, appreciation for, and investment in Buffalo’s Olmsted Park System, which includes six major parks, eight connecting parkways, nine circles and seven smaller spaces designed by the world renowned father of landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park and Illinois’ Riverside Suburb.
Bry developed an interest in a preservation career at age 13 in his hometown of Auburn, Ind., with the decade-long reconstruction of his great, great-grandfather’s monument company façade. To formalize that career he came to Southeast to earn his bachelor of science in historic preservation.
For more than a decade, Bry was employed as a Main Street manager in the Midwest, first working in a small town in Illinois and then moving on to Columbus, Ind., that features the largest collection of significant modern buildings in North America. He also is one of only 261 nationally certified downtown revitalization professionals in the United States, and was instrumental in helping persuade the University to become a major stakeholder in the creation of Cape Girardeau’s Main Street program.
In 2005, Bry became the Eastern Program coordinator for the PA Downtown Center in Harrisburg. During his tenure with the Center, he provided technical and training services to Main Street and Elm Street communities throughout eastern Pennsylvania.
Over the course of his career he has served in a variety of leadership functions, and has secured under $2 million for community revitalization and planning efforts. Bry has been a creator and co-producer of a television show for national distribution about historic cemeteries. He also is leading a national effort called the National Hallowed Ground Partnership for the purpose of increased historic cemetery awareness and preservation, and is a principle in the Madden Company, a cemetery preservation and planning company.
Hoffman says Bry began his career in preservation, heritage tourism and downtown revitalization working on his great-grandfather’s historic building and taking “ritualistic jaunts to local cemeteries with his great-grandmother, whose father and uncles founded the original Madden Company. Bry’s mission, Hoffman says, is to continue to instill and pass on the sense of excitement, passion, interest and love that his great-grandmother placed in him long ago, so that each community’s rich cultural and architectural heritage can continue.
“John has spent his entire professional career doing just that,” Hoffman said.