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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 26, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on Preserve America Neighborhoods
East Literature Magnet School
Nashville, Tennessee

3:29 P.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. Well, I'm so excited to be here in Nashville today, especially for this Preserve America event. I started this morning at the launch of the shuttle. It's the first time I've ever gotten to be there for a launch, and it was so thrilling, so moving. I didn't expect to be as moved as I was by it. So I think that was a great way to start. We started as -- we sent a shuttle into space, something that has everything to do with our future; and then here we're ending -- I'm ending my day with an event that has to do with our past and remembering our past.

Laura Bush addresses an audience July 26, 2005 at a Preserve America neighborhoods event at the East Literature Magnet School in Nashville, Tennessee.  White House photo by Krisanne Johnson And so it's really a great two events that I've had today. Thank you, Secretary Jackson. Thank you for joining us here today. And thanks especially to Mayor Purcell. Thank you very much. And thanks Mayor Tom Miller from Franklin, thank you for being here.

I also want to acknowledge John Nau, the Chairman of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation. John, and Lynn Scarlett, who just spoke a minute ago, from the Department of the Interior, are co-chairs of the Preserve America Steering Committee. And I'm so happy that both of them could be with us today.

I also want to thank Dr. Pedro Garcia, the Superintendent of Schools, and Principal Fran Stewart for welcoming us to the East Literature Magnet School.

Dr. Garcia met President Bush when he delivered remarks here a few years ago. The President gave this school a very high recommendation so I wanted to stop by and see it for myself. The school is bigger now, and after a very careful restoration of this building and the high school building next door, the East Literature Magnet School is a historic treasure.

The middle school building, which opened in 1937, and the high school building, which opened in 1932, are on the National Register of Historic Places. For more than 70 years students have come to this campus. Some went off to fight in World War II, and now they're memorialized on the grand clock tower next door. Both buildings look much the same as they did when they were opened, right down to the color schemes. Those first students would likely recognize the art deco detailing in the school -- and the three stone eagles perched on the entrance to the high school.

Today, East Literature Magnet School is functional for modern students while still evoking memories of classes and assemblies long past. The restoration speaks to the values of the people of Nashville, who take pride in their history and want to ensure that future generations are educated in this beautiful landmark building.

Historic preservation has an important place in America. As our nation ages, more and more places around America are at risk of falling into disuse or being razed to make way for new construction. Progress is healthy, but it ought to be coupled with respect for the places of our past. President Bush and I want every American -- especially children -- to learn about our nation's heritage and to enjoy our national treasures. A White House initiative called Preserve America helps ensure that they do. Preserve America promotes cultural and natural preservation and encourages greater appreciation of our heritage -- from monuments and buildings to landscapes and main streets. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, are strong partners in this initiative.

Restoring and protecting grand old buildings and storied homes is an important part of historic preservation. But preservation goes beyond bricks and mortar. Preservation is about community partnerships, bringing together governments, private-sector institutions, local citizens, and businesses to celebrate the rich heritage of a community. Preservation is about education -- teaching a new generation about how people lived and played and worshiped in the past. Preservation is about promoting historical and cultural tourism, so that people from all over the world can learn about a particular corner of it. And increased tourism contributes to a stronger economy and more jobs for local workers. Ultimately, preservation is about revitalizing the spirit of a community, rekindling local pride, so that every resident is proud to say, "Welcome to my neighborhood."

It has been a year-and-a-half since we announced the first eight Preserve America Community designations in the East Room of the White House. Today, we have 261 Preserve America communities within 43 states, with pending applications from 75 more communities representing two additional states.

A handful of sites each year are singled out for recognition with a Preserve America Presidential Award. This year, four projects were honored for their efforts, one to renovate the home of one of America's greatest authors, Edith Wharton; another to maintain the integrity of a historic house in old Savannah; another to encourage exploration of some great Texas trails; and to restore a French colonial home on the banks of the Mississippi River. Each of these projects contributed to the historical, educational, and economic vitality of their community.

Until today, Preserve America communities could be towns, villages, cities, counties, or Indian tribes. But of all the communities that have received a Preserve America designation, none have been major cities. Many of our greatest cities, places like New York, San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle and Nashville have richly historic, distinctive neighborhoods that strive to preserve the physical and cultural roots of their heritage.

Today I'm pleased to announce an important new component of Preserve America -- the Preserve America Neighborhoods. Under Preserve America Neighborhoods, individual neighborhoods within a large city can apply for recognition as a Preserve America community rather than to wait for the whole city to apply.

Nashville contains 47 official separate neighborhoods. The neighborhood we're in today, East End, began in 1876 as an outgrowth of the East Edgefield neighborhood. In the past 130 years, it's given rise to an amazing collection of meticulously crafted homes, and serves as a showcase of Victorian architecture.

The story of Nashville is really the many stories of all of its people. Among them are the stories of Native Americans who first found homes here -- the saga of Jacques Timothy Demonbreun, the French Canadian hunter and trader who began coming to this area in the 1760s and today is known as the "first citizen" of Nashville; the story of Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States and hero of the War of 1812 and Battle of New Orleans.

Nashville's story is the story of Moses McKissack who came to Nashville in 1905 to construct a home for the dean of the school of architecture and engineering at Vanderbilt University. His firm, McKissack and McKissack, is one of America's oldest African American-owned architecture firms.

Nashville's story is the story of suffragist and civic leader Anne Dallas Dudley, who organized the Nashville Equal Suffrage League in 1911 and helped Tennessee become the 36th and deciding state to cast the vote for the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Now that the neighborhood program is open, I encourage the East End and other historic neighborhoods in Nashville and around America to apply to become Preserve America Neighborhoods. And I'd be proud if the whole city of Nashville decided to become the first metropolitan area to apply for the Preserve America Community designation.

Preserve America Communities and Neighborhoods demonstrate that they realize the importance of historic preservation to the economic, educational, esthetic, and cultural life of America -- as well as to their residents, to their visitors, and especially to their children.

President Bush and I are proud to expand the opportunity for Preserve America recognition to neighborhoods in our nation's 90 largest metropolitan areas. We appreciate the people of Nashville, and the neighborhood of East End, for sharing their story with us. And we urge all Americans to explore and enjoy our shared heritage, and to join our efforts to Preserve America.

Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

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