Travis Cleveland McDonald, Jr., Director of Architectural Restoration at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest has been selected to receive the Architecture Medal for Virginia Service. It is the Society’s most prestigious public award, honoring an individual or organization that has made an unusually significant contribution to Virginia’s built environment or to the public’s understanding and awareness of the built environment. This year, the Society presents this award jointly with the Virginia Center for Architecture at the Visions for Architecture gala on Nov. 4 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Since 1989, McDonald has guided the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. His careful stewardship of this Jeffersonian treasure has assured that this work be instructive to the public and true to the original designer’s intent. As a result, sophisticated historians and children alike have benefitted from seeing how a project carefully restored can provide insight into the lives of those who lived and worked there. Awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Honor Award, this restoration in progress is regarded in the professional preservation community as one of the most important projects in the country.
McDonald is also frequently sought after as a speaker for historical, civic, and academic gatherings and has authored or been featured in a number of scholarly journals and professional publications. In making this award, the Society acknowledges his dedicated and ongoing work at Poplar Forest, which truly took the idea of restoration as a private event and turned it into a very public phenomenon — creating a wonderful public education opportunity.