University of Oregon

Historic Preservation Program


The Father of Preservation

George McMath

George McMath, FAIA, is widely remembered as one of the most important figures in the preservation and restoration of Portland's historic buildings. From an early age McMath had an interest in architecture, particularly preservation and restoration architecture.

After witnessing the demolition of several of Portland's historic buildings, McMath was inspired with a passion to protect and preserve Portland's architectural history. During the 1960s and 1970s, McMath worked tirelessly toward his goal of architectural preservation. He was chairman for several different organizations and committees, crafted laws to protect historic buildings, carried out surveys of Portland's architecture, personally worked on countless restoration projects, and always acted as a leader in preserving Portland's architectural history. Learn more about George McMath's contributions.

McMath's work was so influential that in 1981, he was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with one of its highest honors when he was elected into its College of Fellows for his leadership in the field of Architectural Preservation. At the time of his semi-retirement in 1996, McMath had cemented his reputation as the "father of preservation" and as one of the most significant figures in Oregon architecture.  He died in 2007.

About the McMath Award

Each year, the McMath award will celebrate a leader in the field who has made significant contributions to historic preservation in the state of Oregon.  The University of Oregon invites you to particpate by making your nomination either online or by submitting your materials.  Visit the Nominations page for guidelines. 

The purpose of the award is to:

  • Honor and celebrate the legacy of George McMath
  • Raise awareness of historic preservation in Oregon
  • Recognize significant leaders in the field
  • Promote excellence in preservation practice
  • Recognize individual and group preservation contributions to the state’s historic landscape
  • Build partnerships between the professional and academic communities to enhance the field of preservation

The recipient will be publicly honored at a ceremony each May. He or she will be invited to participate in university lectures, workshops, and courses, and also be acknowledged in a university publication and website.

A jury of educators and professionals will consider each nomination for outstanding contributions made in the state of Oregon. If you would like to be considered as a member of this jury please contact Kingston Heath, Program Director at 541-346-2115 or email

Nomination Form

Visit the Nominations page for information about submitting your nomination for the upcoming year.

Previous Award Recipients