The following was submitted by Deb Payson, director of development and communications for the Essex National Heritage Commission:
Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin, chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, presented Annie C. Harris with the commission's 2012 Individual Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony in Dorchester on May 30. Harris was one of 12 individuals, projects, and organizations to be honored.
"The Massachusetts Historical Commission is proud to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of this year's awardees," said Galvin. "For nearly 40 years, Ms. Harris has demonstrated outstanding preservation leadership and innovation at the local, state, and national levels, and has made significant contributions to the preservation of the Commonwealth's historic resources."
Harris has been active for many years in civic and community organizations around Salem and the North Shore. She served for twelve years on the Salem Historical Commission - six as its chair - and has lived in the McIntire Historic District of Salem for more than 30 years.
She was the third executive director of the Salem Partnership, a public-private alliance that facilitates collaboration between businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to promote projects that restore and revitalize Salem's historic assets.
Under her direction, the Salem Partnership assisted in the expansion of the Maritime National Historic Site's boundaries, development of the National Park Service's Regional Visitor Center in Salem, restoration of the historic Derby and Central Wharves, and construction of the replica tall ship Friendship.
Harris and the Salem Partnership also led the effort to create the Essex National Heritage Area - comprised of the 34 communities of Essex County - which was officially designated by the U.S. Congress in 1996.
The Essex National Heritage Area formed its own management corporation in 1997, with Harris as the founding executive director of the Essex National Heritage Commission, where she remains today. The National Heritage Area and its affiliated commission oversee projects that preserve, promote, and protect the region's historic structures, scenic roadways, maritime resources, and archival materials. Harris also serves in a national leadership position as the vice president of the Executive Committee of the Alliance of National Heritage Areas. She was appointed for a two-year term to the Planning Committee of the National Park System Advisory Board in November of 2010.
Harris received her Masters of Architecture from MIT and an MBA from Harvard. She began her career in Lowell, where, as part of the early Lowell Plan study team, she helped create the city's innovative, urban National Historical Park.
She has also worked for the Crowninshield Corporation, an early leader in adaptive reuse and historic preservation, and for the City of Boston, where she specialized in federal historic rehabilitation tax credit projects.
This was the 34th year of MHC's Preservation Awards program. Projects are considered annually for awards in the categories of rehabilitation and restoration, adaptive reuse, education and outreach, archaeology, stewardship, and landscape preservation. Individuals are considered in the categories of Individual Lifetime Achievement and Local Preservationist.
The Massachusetts Historical Commission is the office of the State Historic Preservation Officer and the State Archaeologist. It was established in 1963 to identify, evaluate, and protect important historical and archaeological assets of the Commonwealth. Visit our website to learn more about the Commission's programs.