The Journey of an Artist
Fine Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Visionary
CAROL WALLACE, ARTIST
Founder/Director of Preserve America® and the associated Gatekeepers of History
Carol Wallace's interest in American history was fostered by her upbringing in one of the country's most historic regions, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Carol's adventurous spirit, coupled with her background in travel with a major airline company and event coordination, led her to create Preserve America®. The years 2018 and 2019 mark the 20th anniversary of Carol's national art/preservation venture, and she has recently fulfilled her goal of visiting every state in the U.S. She lists on her Preserve America web site every historic property (hotels, inns and resorts, restaurants, landmarks, museums and other entities) she has personally seen, and are now part of Preserve America. Many are included in the "Preserve America Collection", a unique and elaborate note card, poster, and giftware line created for these properties to place in their gift shops which, in turn, acquires funding for their preservation efforts.
This singular artist, traveling across America, has assisted local, state and federal preservation-minded entities in reaching their goals, and without expectation of funding from them:
1. Twenty years ago, before founding Preserve America, Carol offered to help officials from a nearby town who were struggling to find a way to revitalize. She saw similarities between that town and her native Doylestown, Pennsylvania which launched their own successful revitalization campaign years before. The artist contacted members of the commission and spoke to them about her observations. This resulted in a contingent traveling to Doylestown and meeting with people to learn about massive renovation of an historic town that had fallen upon hard times.
2. In 1982, Carol stepped forward again when she saw a TV newscast about the Connecticut Department of Tourism. It was having a rough time promoting the state's new tourism slogan, Better Yet Connecticut, which officials hoped would have the same effect as the I Love New York tourism campaign. But there was no money in the state coffers to promote their slogan. Carol Wallace called the Director of Tourism the next day to share an idea with him: It involved a series of TV ads, utilizing one of the state's major attractions, an antique steam train – and a unique resource, its eminent citizens. She suggested enlisting the help of numerous A-list celebrities living in Connecticut, and willing to star in the ads for free. Carol went one step further by lining up people to be extras and production assistants, provide food and transportation, and even convinced officials at a major hotel (Farmington Marriott Hotel) to stage a gala Hollywood-type celebration for the launch of the ads.
In recognition of her idea which she had shared with State officials, then-Governor William O'Neill immediately appointed Carol to his Tourism Council with the title Executive Director of the entire ad campaign. After a year's work, the commercials were aired and, as proclaimed by the Governor, it was a campaign worth $3 million that didn't cost the state a dime. It was the first (and only) major tourism campaign of its type ever done in America. Carol received the 1982 Connecticut Tourism Award from the Governor for her work and another award from him at the Gala when the three commercials were released.
3. Carol saw another opportunity to help country stores that were struggling to stay in business. When she was visiting the famous Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vermont in 1996, she heard conversations from distraught patrons over their concern about Walmart coming into the state. Carol remembered her treasured visits to her local country store when she was a kid; and as she headed back to Connecticut, wondered how she could help...during the next few months Carol researched all the country stores in the state and came up with a list of 30 that she would feature on a poster. She took numerous trips to Vermont during the year to interview all the storekeepers, take photographs, and do some sketching. The end result was a 2' x 3' two-sided
poster--a collaboration between the artist, storekeepers, and then-Governor Howard Dean and his preservation commission. The centerpiece, a watercolor montage featuring two items from each of the featured stores, is surrounded by pen & ink drawings of the 30 selected country stores.The backside includes testimonials from the storekeepers and histories of the stores. It is considered a type of treasure hunt for those wanting to match up the items in the centerpiece with what is inside each of the buildings. There was involvement on a statewide level when then-Governor Howard Dean held a press conference on the steps of one of the featured country stores (Cilley Store at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site) to present these prints to the people of America and accept the #1 Artist Proof to hang in the Vermont State Capitol. The posters were distributed by Vermont preservation officials to every public and private school library in the state.
4. Carol's posters and note cards garnered the attention of the Federal Government after David Crane, Director of Crane & Company, the legendary historic paper and stationery company, asked her to partner with his company for her Preserve America project.
In 2000, Carol sent some of her prints to First Lady Hillary Clinton, after hearing about her new Save America's Treasures program to help historic places across America. A letter from the White House soon followed, thanking the artist for the prints and acknowledging Carol's work. Mrs. Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff, who also worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, contacted the artist many times, expressing interest in her preservation venture and method of building it to a prominent level. Carol's work helped this organization gain insight as to how to proceed.
When Laura Bush took over Save America's Treasures, she renamed it "Preserve America", the same moniker as Carol Wallace's trademarked venture. The artist called the White House about this in advance of an announcement by Laura and President George Bush to let the American people know about it. A White House attorney spoke to Carol explaining that, in their view, it would not tread on her work. Carol did not wish to hinder assistance to people needing financial help to preserve their heritage. She acquiesced and consequently there are two Preserve America entities – the Federal and Carol's, each providing municipalities with a venue to promote their properties, teach people about history, and raise money to help them revitalize their towns and historic structures.
From Congressional Study Executive Order13287: Kathryn Smith
"Preserve America" was originally trademarked by an American painter named Carol Wallace, who traveled to over 1,000 locations across the nation using her art and photography skills to document all aspects of Americana. She is a strong proponent of preservation, bringing awareness of America's heritage to the public, income to museums through their gift shops, and inspiration to those who share in her goals. In 2003, First Lady Laura Bush invited Mrs. Wallace to the White House and also as a guest (official greeter) to one of her preservation initiative events. It was that same year that the Preserve America EO was enacted, also calling for increased awareness, protection, and preservation of America's heritage.
5. Most recently, in July 2018, a caravan of millennial travelers, supported by the National Trust of Historic Preservation, traveled Route 66. These "roadies" had a goal to see and photograph historic places, and talk to select people along the famous road. Public funding was requested on the NTHP web site for their caravan. This was tied into the Mother Road's recent designation as a National Treasure.
Route 66 is one of Carol Wallace's premier interests, as it is part of her personal history (her parents traveled the Mother Road during WWll when her father trained in Kansas and Arizona before being deployed to the European Theatre). She took the road trip in 2013 with three other ladies, including her daughter and a high school friend, Donna Miller, the former long-time Creative Director of The National Wildlife Federation's Ranger Rick magazine.As a tribute to Route 66's 90th birthday, Carol wrote a 34-page Online Route 66 Road Trip that is posted on the Gatekeepers of History section of her Preserve America web site, the National Route 66 Federation web site, and various web sites of the places she visited.
In online interviews and YouTube videos, iconic residents living along the Old Road speak about their life and love for Route 66. Carol sent this story to the National Trust last year hoping they'd use the information to help these people, and consider making the road one of their National Treasures – and thankfully, they finally did. She also contacted members of Congress who were involved in preserving the historical significance of Rte 66 to attain further support.
Currently, to help more people learn about America, Carol continues to work in regions around the country to provide the art needed to promote heritage tourism through internationally distributed tourism brochures. And she has collaborated with Main Street designated towns and as they celebrated important anniversaries. Officials at the Western Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau in Litchfield County, Connecticut had, in years past, commissioned the artist to create covers and interior art for seven of their Auto Tours brochures, which were sent to inquiring travelers in the United States and abroad.