At 95 years old, William “Bill” Murtagh, a founding father of the modern historic preservation movement in America, passed away on October 28. Our profession owes a great deal to Murtagh’s scholarship and leadership in the formation of current principles that guide many aspects of preserving our nation’s historic resources, including the process of review for historic tax credits.
Among Murtagh’s many accomplishments, he is perhaps best known as the inaugural “Keeper of the Register,” a position born out of the creation of the National Register for Historic Places that was created by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, legislation to which he also contributed. It was his ethic that set the tone for the program that carries through today and allows for local communities to petition for listing historic buildings on the National Register based on the significance these places hold for them. In the federal historic tax credit program, this allows (and obliges) State Historic Preservation Offices to be the gatekeeper for the National Park Service review.
While all of our MHA preservation professionals work within the program that was shaped by this giant in the movement, for some his presence in the industry was more personal.
We at MHA are grateful for the stewardship of William Murtagh in creating the programs we work with day in and day out, and endeavor to honor his memory by advising on historic preservation principles with the same integrity he demonstrated over his brilliant career.