MANCHESTER -- On Sunday, July 27, Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, honored the 2014 recipients of the Hildene Award with a celebratory luncheon.

The award is given annually to Vermonters who have made extraordinary contributions in the areas of land conservation and historic preservation. This years recipients were Sarah Dopp of South Burlington, who has served for years on the Vermont Historical Society’s board of directors and founded the South Burlington Land Trust in 2003, and Paul Bruhn, of Burlington, who founded the Vermont Preservation Trust in 1980.

In addition to honoring the achievements of the two recipients, the annual award has a second component: a $10,000 prize, for which the recipient(s) choose a worthy non-profit organization. This year, Bruhn and Dopp elected to donate the money to the Vermont Marble Museum in Proctor, Vermont. The museum board’s secretary, Ina Smith-Johnson, happened to be in attendance, and was shocked to learn that her organization had been chosen. "The museum holds an important park of Vermont’s history and has great potential," she said as she accepted the check, "To make it work, we’ll need the support of many, and this $10,000 award from Hildene, and Sarah and Paul, is a big step toward accomplishing our goal of acquiring the museum."

"Sarah showed me what it means to lead by example," said Mark Hudson, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society, who also praised Dopp’s work with the Burlington Land Trust and the First Baptist Church of Burlington, "In all her endeavors, she selflessly gives her time, talent, and treasures.


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She doesn’t simply do things: She lives them!"

For her part, Dopp, who was announced as one of the recipients of the award in June, said that she had been initially surprised, but upon further reflection, realized that, "This may ne the whole point of the award in my case: to recognize even the modest efforts of a small player. There are lots of them across Vermont, making important contributions to our communal quality of life and the future of our state. I’m happy that I can represent them today."

Introducing Bruhn was Peter Brink, chairman of the Vermont Preservation Trust’s board of directors, who thanked Bruhn for not only founding the organization, but successfully leading it for three decades. "Paul is one of a kind," he said, "He succeeds because he builds relationships of mutual trust and respect with hundreds of community leaders and grassroots preservationists across Vermont, and is always there to support them so that they can be in the spotlight."

Bruhn thanked those very people in his own speech, calling them, "the real heroes on our team, the people we try to help in virtually every single community in Vermont. They are the folks out there who do the heavy lifting. Miraculous things, against big odds."

"While this is a great honor for me," he said, "I do want you to know that historic preservation and the work of the Preservation Trust of Vermont is a team sport."

After the luncheon, those in attendance were brought to the trailhead of one of the estate’s most scenic trails, where Hildene executive director Seth Bongartz unveiled two new trail cairn markers to honor Depp ad Bruhn.

Past winners of the award have included Senator James Jeffords, for his work in preserving civil war battlefields, Darby Bradley, former president of the Vermont Land Trust, Linda Ramsdell, owner of the Galaxy Bookshop of Hardwick, and Andrea Rogers, founding executive director of the Flynn Center in Burlington.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB