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Neil W. Horstman retired this spring, thus ending a distinguished career with the White House Historical Association. He led the organization for twenty years. We offer this appreciative tribute to him, a man of vision who generously paved the way for all of us.

Horstman was a well-known figure in historic preservation long before he came to the Association. Notable rescues of threatened and abandoned architecture in Louisville, Kentucky, Kansas City, Missouri, and Savannah, Georgia, were his achievements as director of nonprofit preservation societies in those cities. As he preserved, he planned, lending his expertise in community development to revivals of whole urban neighborhoods and districts. He went to Mount Vernon as resident director in 1987, serving for seven years.

As president of the White House Historical Association he increased the professional staff and brought our work into the computer age. He oversaw the development of educational programs for public schools, summer seminars for teachers from all over the nation, scholarships and research fellowships, traveling exhibitions, and publications—including White House History but also books for all ages. All were the products of his expansion of the Association’s educational objectives.

He further enhanced the organization’s relationship to the White House. While the Association is a private, nonprofit organization, it was founded to assist the president in interpreting the White House to the American people. Horstman supported this role enthusiastically. In addition to acquiring historical furnishings and art work for the White House collection during his tenure with us, he developed the White House Visitors’ Center located in the Commerce Building. A magnificent remodeling of that center will reopen to the public this fall.

Horstman brought the historic Decatur House under the wing of the Association as the David Rubenstein National Center for White House History. A comprehensive restoration of the building and its annex was necessary for the conversion from historic house museum to classroom. It is done to perfection.

This spring Neil Horstman entered private practice as a consultant in planning, organization and preservation, with two partners. His new headquarters is, not surprisingly, a richly historic town, Madison, Georgia. We are certain that he will read White House History, word for word as he always has, and we will hear from him.

Neil W. Horstman

This article was originally published in White House History (Number 35) Summer 2014