The Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village has received an award of merit from the American Association for State and Local History. The awards, now in its 68th year, is the the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The Lakeport plantation home is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site and is one of Arkansas’ premier historic structures and the state’s last antebellum plantation house along the Mississippi River. It was built in 1859 for the Johnson family of Kentucky.

The Sam Epstein Angel family of Lake Village deeded the house to the university in 2001 and restoration began in 2002, using the highest level of U. S. Department of Interior standards for rehabilitation, and the restored home opened to the public in 2007.

Since its opening, thousands of visitors from all over Arkansas, the United States, and the globe have toured the plantation.

In September 2012, permanent exhibits were installed at the plantation. Those exhibits tell a unique Delta story while maintaining the historic integrity of the Lakeport house and weaving together the stories of planters, enslaved laborers, sharecroppers, farm laborers, craftsmen, and preservationists.

Since the house had changed little since its 1859 construction, the goal was to treat the house as the major artifact. To meet that goal, exhibits, designed in collaboration with Quatrefoil Associates of Laurel, Maryland, complement the restoration and preservation of original architecture and historic paint finishes.

No interpretation is placed permanently on walls; instead minimalist-styled exhibits tell Lakeport’s stories. Original furniture and smaller artifacts, displayed in vitrines, complement Lakeport’s interpretive themes throughout the house. Other innovative media engage visitors: projection of images, text and video onto walls; oral history kiosks, and soundscaping makes the house feel inhabited.

This year, the American Association for State and Local History presented 88 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books, and organizations. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during on September 20 at the American Association for State and Local History’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.

The American Association for State and Local History awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also brings public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tenn, it provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American society.

The American Association for State and Local History publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and monthly newsletter. The association also sponsors regional and national training workshops and an annual meeting.