The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 20, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on the Preserve America Initiative and Historic Preservation
Louisville Water Tower
Louisville, Kentucky

2:18 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Lynn. Thank you for your service to our country. And thanks very much to David Morgan and to the residents of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State, for making your state such a beautiful place to live and a beautiful place to visit.

There aren't many places where water towers are works of art. (Laughter.) But this pumping station is one of the country's finest examples of industrial architecture. Louisville is the perfect city to celebrate America's heritage.

More than 200 years ago Meriwether Lewis and William Clark shook hands here and began a journey that forever shaped our nation. William Clark was the younger brother of General George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War hero and the founder of this beautiful city.

Both brothers had a fond appreciation for the majesty of our country, and each of you carries on their spirit through the preservation of Kentucky's rich heritage.

President Bush and I want every American -- and especially all American children -- to learn about our nation's heritage and to enjoy our national treasures. Today, we recognize your hard work to do just that with special designation as a Preserve America Community.

A state preservation officer once said, Kentucky likes to be number one. (Laughter.) David Morgan wasn't kidding. Currently, there are 65 Preserve America communities across the country -- and half of them are here in Kentucky. (Applause.) Congratulations to all of you.

Versailles was one of the first communities to be recognized at the White House earlier this year. And congratulations to David, and to all the members of the Kentucky Heritage Council and the mayors and the city officials and residents of these communities for preserving our nation's past.

When I visit your beautiful state, I'm reminded of the words of poet laureate Jesse Stuart. In the poem "Kentucky is my Land," he wrote, Kentucky is neither southern, northern, eastern or wester, it is the core of America. If these United States can be called a body, Kentucky can be called its heart.

Each Preserve America community is unique, but together, you form a stunning portrait of Kentucky's rich history and vibrant landscapes. By celebrating your history and reviving your downtowns and historic landmarks, you inspire residents and visitors alike to enjoy their heritage.

In Elizabethtown, residents have restored the State Street Theater, one of the few art deco buildings left in the county.

Families in Covington honor their German ancestors who settled there more than 160 years ago with an annual Maifest celebration.

Bardstown celebrates its whiskey-making roots -- (laughter) -- at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, which is located in historic Spalding Hall.

Kentucky has done a great job of restoring historic landmarks. More than 70 projects have been certified through the Preservation Tax Incentive Program -- with a total investment of more than $30 million. Bowling Green and Springfield are just two communities that are using their past to build a better future.

Children can still embark upon an adventure at the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Depot in Bowling Green. Instead of taking a train, they can travel the world wide web at the state's first digital library.

Downtown Springfield is growing after the restoration of the 100-year-old Opera House. Today, six structures are on the National Register, including the 1816 courthouse which is still in use.

For communities from Paducah to Fort Thomas, preservation is an investment in the future. Paducah's Artist Relocation Program is a national model for neighborhood revitalization. The program helps artists purchase and restore old buildings for their homes and studios.

Preservationists in Mount Sterling turned 10 old buildings into 10 new storefronts on Hobbs Block, while residents of Cadiz -- except that's not it. Cadiz? I'm using the Spanish pronunciation -- (laughter) -- restored the last one-room schoolhouse and the town's oldest log cabin.

And in Fort Thomas, the Armory and the Old Mess Hall are now great places for recreation and community events.

Ashland continues to be center stage for country music stars who celebrate the town's musical heritage at the Paramount Arts Center.

And in Midway, the Rau Building stands as a symbol of the town's development. More than a century old, the building has housed a bakery, a hotel, a grocery store. And soon it will be the new home of the Midway Museum and visitor center.

In LaGrange, preservationists are restoring the town's original storefronts and the historic Presbyterian Church. Residents in Lebanon are turning two old high schools into a new community center.

While in Shelbyville, antique experts at the Wakefield-Scarce Galleries teach lessons in history at a restored 200-year-old girl's school.

In Murray, where much of downtown was burned during the Civil War, store owners are receiving grants to save historic properties. Each one of these communities show that our home towns and main streets are vital parts of our communities. And by ensuring their success, we strengthen America.

Another goal of Preserve America is to promote the conservation and the enjoyment of our natural resources. Open spaces are sanctuaries for learning and reflection, and thanks to conservation efforts, visitors will soon enjoy a restored town center and park in Anchorage. Residents are following the original 1916 plan for the community created by the Olmsted Brothers.

In Greensburg, visitors can learn about the Green River at the historic Greensburg Water Plant -- while explorers can deepen their understanding of nature at the American Cave and Karst Museum in Horse Cave.

The less adventurous can drive along quiet back roads to Scottsville, where the entire downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Even the trees are historic, including a Calacanthus bush that has bloomed since 1842.

By making our home towns vibrant places to live and explore, we inspire young people to make their communities their classrooms. It's vitally important for young people to learn about their history. An understanding and appreciation of history makes every American a more engaged citizen.

In Madisonville, named for James Madison, children learn their history as they learn the importance of preservation. During a week-long celebration of James Madison, costumed interpreters visit elementary schools and historians host lectures.

At the Old Fort Harrod State Park in Harrodsburg, children learn tinsmthing and weaving from costumed craftspeople who relive the days of early pioneers.

In Maysville, fourth graders explore log houses from the late 18th century and learn about frontier life, while in Newport, fifth graders tour the historic East Row District as part of a four-day preservation program.

For history lovers of all ages, historic communities generate excitement and curiosity about the people who lived there and the events they witnessed. On Heritage Saturdays in Carrollton, visitors can learn about early crafts at the Masterson House, one of the oldest masonry houses in the country.

Visitors to Cynthiana can see reenactments of the Civil War while in Glasgow, they can explore a gristmill from the mid-1800s. Richmond was the scene of a major Confederate victory in 1862. And today, visitors can learn about that battle with a narrated driving tour.

In every Preserve America community, preservation is a community-wide commitment. In Henderson, architects help homeowners on preservation projects in the House Doctor program. While in Erlanger, residents and business owners follow community guidelines for restoring historic properties.

Residents of Winchester saved the abandoned Kerr Building, which was built atop a water supply source for early settlers. The charm of the 115-year-old building will be maintained when it becomes a new storefront.

In a few weeks, folks in Danville will celebrate Historic Preservation Week with their annual Front Porch Tour. Special gold bows will highlight National Register properties.

Today, preservationists in Danville and in every community here can highlight their hometowns with a special designation as a Preserve America Community. Preserve America helps to save our past and ensures a future filled with opportunities for learning and enjoyment. This initiative and the awards and federal support provide strong incentives for continued preservation of our cultural and natural resources.

Jesse Stuart in his poem about Kentucky closed with, Kentucky is my Land and when I go beyond the border, I take with me Kentucky embedded in my brain and heart, in my flesh and bone and blood, since I am of Kentucky and Kentucky is part of me.

With your continued work to preserve and celebrate your heritage, Kentucky will become a part of all who visit and live right here in the heart of America.

Thank you all very, very much. And congratulations to each one of the Preserve America communities. (Applause.) Thank you all. Congratulations.

Now, I'm going to introduce John Nau who, as you heard, is the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. And he also is the Chairman of the Texas Historical Commission. So he and I had a lot of very hot tours of main streets in Texas when George was governor. We've had a really good time there.

But he's a great historian and a great friend. John Nau. (Applause.)

END 2:29 P.M. EDT

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