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Home arrowNews arrowJuly 20, 2013

First Lady Designates Three Preserve America Communities: Placerville, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Kendall County, Texas

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama has sent designation letters to three additional Preserve America Communities, bringing the nationwide total to 890. With the designation of Placerville, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Kendall County, Texas, California now has 38 Preserve America Communities; Ohio, 21; and Texas, 76.

Historic Union Station, Cincinnati, Ohio

Preserve America Communities, great places to live, visit and explore, are located in all 50 states and several overseas U.S. territories. A full list of Preserve America Communities, along with profiles and contact information, can be found at The program recognizes a select group of communities that use their heritage resources in sustainable ways and share the myriad benefits of historic preservation with residents and visitors.

Applications from prospective new Preserve America Communities are accepted quarterly; the next deadline for submission is December 1, 2013. Preserve America is administered by the ACHP with assistance from the U.S. Department of the Interior. For more information, including community designation criteria and application forms, see

“Preserve America Communities are committed to preserving their past by using their heritage to build a better future,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, chairman of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). “It is good news for the nation when communities demonstrate that they want to enjoy and share the economic, educational, environmental and sustainability benefits preservation provides, while creating more vibrant and desirable places to live, work and visit.”

Placerville, California, (population 10,389), now the El Dorado County seat, was formerly known as Dry Diggins and Hangtown. The area first boomed during the California gold rush when gold was discovered on the nearby American River. By the early 1850s it had a fire department, post office, newspaper, and Pony Express and Wells Fargo offices. Later, it evolved into a thriving agricultural town, with lumbering, ranches, farms, vineyards and orchards contributing to its vitality. Luminaries including Mark Twain, Mark Hopkins, Levi Strauss and John Studebaker passed through the town. Many structures dating to the 18th century remain. For more than 60 years the greater Placerville and El Dorado County communities have held the annual multi-day Wagon Train, which commemorates the pioneering immigrants who traversed the Placerville-Carson Road (now U.S. Highway 50) through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1840s to settle in California. The city was also home to Snowshoe Thompson, a Norwegian immigrant who ran a postal route on skis, who some consider to be the father of North American cross country skiing.

Cincinnati, Ohio, (population of city proper 296,943, with metropolitan area population of more than 2 million) traces its origins to the arrival of pioneers on a flatboat at Yeatman’s Cove on the Ohio River in 1788. The settlement was known as Losantiville. In 1789, Fort Washington, a major U.S. military outpost in what was then the Northwest Territory, was established here. The territorial governor renamed it Cincinnati in 1790. It became a growing interior boomtown in the young nation and gained the nickname “Queen City of the West,” often shortened to “Queen City.” In the late 1800s, it became known as the Paris of America due to the major significant architectural projects including the Music Hall, Cincinnatian Hotel and Shillito department store. The city’s Over the Rhine historic district contains an impressive collection of Italianate architecture and recalls the history of German immigrants to the region.

Though Kendall County, Texas, (population 33,410) was established January 10, 1862 during the Civil War in a Confederate state, the county was and remained largely pro-Union, with a significant majority of its citizens voting not to secede from the United States. This made sense for an area largely settled by German immigrants who brought with them a strong belief in opportunity and a commitment to the ideal of freedom. Before Bavarian emigrant Nocolaus Zink became the county’s first European settler in 1847, the area that became Kendall County was the setting for the small but fierce Battle of Walker Creek between Texas Rangers and Comanches where Samuel Colt’s repeating revolvers were used for the first time. Among the many offerings for heritage tourists are extensive trails and walking tours, and such festivities as Frhulingfest (spring festival) celebrating wildflowers and the area’s German heritage.


Updated September 27, 2013

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