Hugh C. Miller. FAIA, FAPT, a 28-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS) served as the service’s second chief historical architect between 1979 and 1988. During that tenure, he was executive architect for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and principal steward of the many nationally-significant historic buildings and landscapes in the service’s care. Throughout his career, Miller was a leading voice for professionalizing NPS restoration/rehabilitation practices based on sound research, science, and policies. A registered architect, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and Honorary Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, he was instrumental in the development and evolution of the emerging field of historic landscape identification and conservation, both within NPS units and nationwide.
Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a son of what he calls a “corporate gypsy,” Miller lived in eleven houses in four states by the time he was twelve. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He then served as Unit Commander, 94th Engineer Battalion (Construction), in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany and France. Returning to the States, he worked in private architectural practice in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, before joining the NPS in 1960. He worked in the NPS Eastern Office of Design and Construction until 1966. He then became supervisory architect/planner for the NPS/USAID planning team stationed in Jordan and Turkey. Starting in 1971 he served as assistant NPS chief historical architect in Washington, D.C. and became the chief historical architect position in 1979.
Throughout his career, Miller advocated for America’s and the NPS’s role in the international community of heritage conservation and historic preservation. For five years, he served as advisor for cultural tourism and the development of park systems and the preservation of cultural properties in Jordan and Turkey. He undertook or participated in special studies of cultural properties in Lebanon, Greece, Iran, Singapore, Macau, Mexico, and Great Britain. He is a member of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and was made a Fellow in 1995.
Miller remains a leading national and international voice for the science and research-based investigation, maintenance, and restoration of historic buildings. He has been a member of APT International since 1972, a director of their board (1974-1981), and founder and past president of its Foundation for Preservation Technology. He currently serves on the APT Technical Committee on Sustainable Preservation. In 1998, he was made a Fellow of APT and presented with the organization’s highest honor – the Harley J. McKee Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is also recognized nationally as a founding leader in identifying, recording, and conserving what today are identified cultural or living landscapes.
After retiring from NPS in 1988, Miller served as the first director of the Virginia department of historic resources and as the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (1989-1994). In 1996, he was appointed adjunct professor to Goucher College’s master’s program in historic preservation where he instructed students in historic building technology and directed the graduate thesis program. He influenced countless projects affecting historic places outside the NPS System including Philadelphia City Hall, the Amana Colonies (Iowa), the Fan Historic District (Richmond, VA), the Octagon and Calwell-Abbe Houses in Washington, D.C., and, in the Commonwealth of Virginia-Stratford Hall, Menokin, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Monticello, and the Academical Village of the University of Virginia.
Miller and his wife have three children, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. He lives in the Fan Historic District of Richmond, Virginia, lectures frequently nationwide on such wide-ranging topics as sustainability and historic preservation and heritage landscapes, serves on innumerable advisory boards, and remains an important figure in national and international heritage preservation professional practice.