ACORN Special Awards announced

08/16/2007 12:02 PM by

The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods announced the recipients of its special awards to be honored at the annual Golden Hammer Awards celebration in October, including special recognition for Laura Daab for the Church Hill North Historic District Initiative. Winners of Golden Hammers in the categories of Best Residential Renovation, Best Commercial Renovation and Best Infill will be named at the event.

The recipients of the special awards are:

Neighborhood Conservator Award
Rebuilding Together, Amy King, Executive Director, is being honored for their citywide home repair program that makes it possible for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners to remain in their homes. Rebuilding Together’s efforts preserve diverse neighborhoods.

Andrew Asch Historic Developer Award
John T. West, IV is being honored for sparking the rejuvenation of 2000 block of Idlewood Avenue. He started with a single neglected apartment building and has been the catalyst for revitalizing an entire block.

Marguerite Crumley Preservation Award
James F. “Jimmy” Kastelberg, Caravati’s Inc. is being honored for his collaboration in A.C.O.R.N.’s Attic and continuing the family tradition of architectural salvage which makes priceless artifacts available for renovators.

Preservation Advocacy Award
Jennie Dotts is being honored for her unfailing dedication to historic preservation and her seven years of service as the Executive Director of A.C.O.R.N.

The Edmund A. Rennolds, Jr. Excellence in Architecture Award
Dr. Charles Brownell, III, Professor of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University, is being honored for setting a high standard of academic achievement and educating the next generation of architectural historians.

Special Recognition
Laura Daab, Church Hill North Historic District Initiative, is being honored for her efforts to have the Church Hill North area designated as a City Old and Historic District. This designation adds a level of protection to a fragile and threatened neighborhood.

Rebuilding Together is the Richmond affiliate of a national program that helps low-income elderly and disabled homeowners maintain their homes. During a one-day “blitz,” the last Saturday in April, over 1,500 volunteers make both minor and major repairs to qualified homes. Since 1993, Rebuilding Together has improved nearly 700 homes in 15 Richmond communities. Last year alone, including volunteer hours, over $800,000 in improvements were made. Swansboro will be the 2008 target community.

Three years ago a group of vacant apartment buildings in the 2000 block of Idlewood Avenue caught John West‘s attention. Some of the buildings were vacant, all were in deplorable condition, and absentee landlords owned most. Tracking down the owner he purchased the first building and made the decision to concentrate his efforts in one block in order to make a difference. His goal is simple to provide a clean, safe, and affordable place for people to live. His primary requirement of the tenants is to be respectful of their neighbors. Mr. West’s efforts have been the catalysis for the stabilization of the block.

Louis J. Caravati, a demolition contractor who could not throw anything away, founded Caravati’s in 1939. In that year he purchased an old lumberyard and utilized the space to store and resell architectural salvage. In 1983, James F. “Jimmy” Kastelberg, Louis’ grandson, took ownership of the business. Now located in historic Manchester, Caravati’s has tripled in size and inventory. Jimmy’s preservation services provide an outlet to people renovating houses and the materials that contribute to the restoration of buildings throughout all Richmond neighborhoods. In 2006, A.C.O.R.N. and Caravati’s entered into an association called A.C.O.R.N.’s Attic which allows individuals to donate high-quality antiques and architectural elements while supporting both entities.

Jennie Dotts strongly believes that neighborhood preservation is a social issue. By tending to the small signs of a neighborhood’s decline one can stave off larger social problems. A belief at the core of A.C.O.R.N.’s founding and the reason Jennie was asked in 2000 to be the organization’s Executive Director. During her seven-year tenure at A.C.O.R.N., Dotts elevated A.C.O.R.N.’s visibility and developed key programs that furthered A.C.O.R.N.’s neighborhood mission.

Dr. Charles E. Brownell, III teaches Architectural History at Virginia Commonwealth University where he fosters high academic standards and encourages cutting edge original research. Every fall, under his direction a select group of students present their findings at the Symposium on Architectural History and the Decorative Arts. The papers often shed new light on Richmond and Virginia landmarks.

Laura Daab, a resident of the Church Hill North community, had long been concerned over the number of demolitions and vacant buildings in her neighborhood and the recent spate of inappropriate infill construction. In the summer of 2006, she organized the Church Hill North Historic District Initiative to begin the process to have the area designated as a City Old and Historic District. Old and Historic designation would provide a level of protection and design review for the fragile neighborhood that contains buildings dating back to the early nineteenth century. These efforts culminated on May 29, 2007 when City Council voted 8 to 0 to designate the district.

Winners of Golden Hammers in the categories of Best Residential Renovation, Best Commercial Renovation and Best Infill will be chosen by an independent judging panel and named at the event on October 4th. Rachel Flynn, Director of the City of Richmond’s Department of Community Development will be the featured speaker. Kimberly Chen, architectural historian, will emcee.

Tickets to the reception, which includes a cocktail buffet, are $65 each or $100 per couple, in advance ($75/each or $125/couple at the door). Reservations are required and may be obtained by contacting A.C.O.R.N. at (804) 422-2148 or

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