Suffolk University received a Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for contributions to the Lower Washington Street Revitalization in Boston through its restoration of the Modern Theatre.

The project is one of 23 award winners honored on Oct. 20 at the 2011 National Preservation Awards ceremony in Buffalo, N.Y.

A local celebration of the award was held at The Boston Opera House on Monday, Oct. 24.

The Preservation Achievement Award is the latest recognition for the Modern Theatre building, which also has earned the following:

The LEED Silver rating
Paul E. Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts
American Institute of Architects New England Design Award

Co-recipients of the Preservation Achievement Award are the Boston Landmarks Commission; The Boston Opera House; Boston Parks and Recreation; Boston Preservation Alliance; Boston Redevelopment Authority; Elkus-Manfredi Architects; and Emerson College.

“Suffolk University is honored to receive the National Trust for Historic Preservation Award for its restoration of the Modern Theatre,” said Acting President and Provost Barry Brown. “The University has been a proud partner in Boston’s efforts to revitalize the Lower Washington Street Theater district while preserving the historic integrity of landmark buildings and bringing a new sense of life, culture and activity to this area.”

The Boston Opera House, Paramount and Modern theaters were lavish palaces when they first opened in the early 20th century, but by the 1970s they had fallen into disrepair. In 1995 the National Trust for Historic Preservation included the theaters on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city agencies developed a network of public-private partnerships to help restore the buildings and revitalize the neighborhood.

“This award and the successful preservation of these historic theaters in the heart of Boston is a tribute to what true collaboration can accomplish,” said Mayor Menino. “In recognizing the importance of investing in these special buildings, Suffolk, Emerson, and our partners have not only restored a unique piece of Boston history, but helped revitalize the theater district and expanded opportunities for art and education in Boston.”

Suffolk University’s restoration of the historic theater brought a new performance space to the Washington Street Theater District while restoring the facade of the 1914 movie theater that introduced “talkies” to Boston.

“While each is unique, this year’s outstanding Honor Award winners all reflect the importance of protecting what is special and irreplaceable,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “…this year’s Honor Award winners demonstrate how preservation is bolstering local economies and creating jobs in communities across the country.”