Sunny and 82 degrees — every day.  This type of weather forecast isn’t what I typically look forward to during a conference week. However FORUM 2014 – A Keystone Connection wasn’t your typical conference. Through an unprecedented partnership, FORUM 2014 harnessed the energy of 781 preservation-minded individuals from 48 states. These attendance numbers and ideal weather conditions will be hard to top in future years.

Cory_jazz handsSOLD OUT. That’s what many saw/heard when trying to register after the early bird deadline. Preliminary arrangements were made to accommodate 500 attendees. Mr. Conference Planner Extraordinaire, PHMC’s own Cory Kegerise, had to call in numerous favors from his alma mater to welcome the additional 281 registrants to the City of Brotherly Love. It might be a stretch to equate Cory to Rocky Balboa, but there were occasions when Cory had to put up his dukes to ensure the conference would be a success. Cory also had a vast system of volunteers and interns; this additional support gave him at least 30 more legs and arms in the FORUM ring.

In an effort to summarize the conference in less than 5 words, a few PennDOT interns shared with me their FORUM 2014 memories…

“Insightful, Connecting, Fun, Essential”
– Marissa Seidel, a rising senior at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland studying History and Anthropology (double Major) with a minor in Black Studies

“Fun, Educational, Networking Opportunities, & Architecture”
– Tyra Guyton, University of Maryland’s Master of Historic Preservation Program

“Relaxing and great for networking”
– Michele Troutman, SUNY Binghamton MA/PhD track in the Anthropology department (focusing on archaeology)

Fun??  Relaxing?  If our student attendees found the conference fun, relaxing, and educational I think we did something right!

During the opening forum at the Arch Street United Methodist Church NAPC Board Chair Esther Hall referred to FORUM 2014 – A Keystone Connection as an arranged marriage. Albeit an unusual marriage, the unity of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, Preservation Pennsylvania, and PennDOT was a match that made history.  Kudos to the small army who made the conference a knockout.

PHMC staff photographer, Don Giles, traveled to Philadelphia to capture some of Friday’s festivities. If you were one of those who received the SOLD OUT message, you can experience a glimpse of the conference through his lens. Likewise some of our partners shared their conference memories to include in this photo essay — thank you Preservation PA, PennDOT interns, and History Colorado for providing illuminating snapshots!