Historic preservation legend’s name graces new award

Covington's elected leaders on Tuesday honored Vic Canfield for 37 years of service on the Urban Design Review Board. Posing with Canfield are, from left, Commissioners Tim Downing and Jordan Huizenga, Mayor Joe Meyer, and Commissioners Michelle Williams and Bill Wells. 

COVINGTON, Ky. - It’s a clichéd but revealing exercise, but to grasp the length of Victor J. “Vic” Canfield’s service on Covington’s Urban Design Review Board, it helps to look at what was happening in the nation the year he started: 

1981 saw the transition from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. The Rolling Stones’ “Tattoo You” tour. Muhammad Ali’s last fight. And the launch of both Donkey Kong and MTV.
During those 37 years, including the last 25 as the board’s chairman, Canfield has helped shepherd Covington through waves of economic development while balancing that growth with the preservation of one of the City’s strongest assets - an array of historic and architecturally significant commercial buildings and homes.
To honor his contribution to Covington’s character, the Covington City Commission on Tuesday night did two things: Passed a resolution recognizing Canfield’s impact on historic preservation and created an award in his name.
Going forward, the Victor J. Canfield Historic Preservation Award will be given as deserving to individuals who, like him, “exhibit a measurable and substantial impact on historic preservation in Covington.”
It won’t necessarily be an annual award, but “something special,” City leaders said, designed to honor someone who leaves a similar legacy.
“Let’s be honest: Without Vic, Covington would not look the way it does now,” Mayor Joe Meyer said. “And with his passionate and dedicated service on the UDRB, he has set the standard for civic participation on Covington’s volunteer boards and commissions. Quietly but with a lot of authority, he just does the job.”
Canfield told the Commission that he was humbled by the honors and the opportunity to serve.
Afterward, he talked about Covington’s historic character, the delicate balance between development and preservation, and why over almost four decades he attended hundreds of meetings and dedicated thousands of hours to studying plans and regulations.
“Covington has such a great group of housing stock, and to see at times it not being respected (motivated me),” he said. “And to see that I could help shape the design standards and work with City staff and citizens to educate the public and make (the process) not so arbitrary.”
Canfield announced his retirement at the June meeting of the board. He declined the mayor’s offer to reappoint him to another term.
Over the years, he has served on numerous committees that improved the City’s historic preservation process and regulations and oversaw the 2013-15 rewrite of historic design guidelines. He has co-written multiple articles building public awareness of Covington’s historic buildings and character.
As a charter member of Covington Avenue Properties Partnership, one of the pioneering historic preservation groups in the City, he was instrumental in 15 historic preservation projects on that street alone in the early ’70s. He has also served as archivist, historian and facilities manager for Mother of God Church.
Mayor and City Commissioners took turns praising Canfield and posed with him with a framed copy of his resolution.
# # #