VCPA Board Officers
Patricia L. Jacobs - President
Pat’s career and longtime interests are grounded in historic preservation. She graduated from Ball State University with a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science degrees. Her professional focus has always been the preservation and adapted reuse of historic buildings. Having worked as Assistant Administrator for the City of Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission during the 80’s and 90’s, Pat has seen the impact of historic preservation on community and neighborhoods. Her work in creatively structured preservation design guidelines and multiple historic district preservation plans was instrumental in the metamorphosis of the greater downtown Indianapolis core.
Pat went on to start her own architectural firm in 2001 with a primary emphasis on community revitalization, historic preservation, building renovation, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse, including the utilization of historic tax credits and other public and private funding resources. Her firm, ARCHitecture trio has impacted numerous small towns through the restoration of nearing 100 historic building facades listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Highlights of her career include the renovation of multiple historic apartment buildings, the conversion of a c.1895 industrial complex into over 100 new housing units, the adaptive reuse of a long vacant former Art Deco-styled public school for children with special needs into a multi-family housing project and a new visitor center for the T.C. Steele Indiana State Historic Site.
For 25+ years Pat, Mark and son Aaron and daughter Charlotte, vacationed and visited family in the Bozeman area. In fact, the first visit and first day in Montana (1991) ended with a whirlwind trip to Virginia City and an evening of fun at the theater and Bale of Hay Saloon. Having relocated to Bozeman from Indiana in 2012, Pat immersed herself into the community with her involvement as a member of the Bozeman Historic Preservation Advisory Board and as a preservation consultant for the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District (NCOD) Evaluation. Seeking a greater opportunity for community involvement and a more serene environment, Pat and Mark journeyed back to VC finding their dream home and permanent place of residence. As President of the VCPA Pat hopes to emphasize the mission of the organization and its commitment to the preservation of its buildings and culture. It is the collective assets of people and place that make Pat proud to call Virginia City home.
Gary R. Forney - Vice President
Gary R. Forney is a retired college Dean and Vice-President who, with his wife, Cathy, has lived near Ennis, Montana, since 1999. He has written numerous articles, made many presentations and authored five books on territorial Montana and Virginia City history.
In addition to serving on the VCPA Board for twenty years, Forney is a founding member and past president of the Elling House Arts & Humanities Center, served on the board of directors for the Madison Valley and the Madison County/Thompson-Hickman libraries, the Madison County Scouting Committee, and is an Honorary Member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (Helena).
Chris Leonard - Treasurer
Chris Leonard lives with his wife and two children in downtown Virginia City. Professionally, Chris is a consultant specializing in real estate projects, affordable housing and business operations. When he isn't working, Chris can be found skiing, camping, biking or doing pretty much anything that gets him outside. Chris joined the VCPA in 2019 and has a passion for the town, it's buildings, and it's character. While Chris is a Colorado native, his wife and kids are six and seventh generation Montanans
Kurt Smidansky - Secretary and Nugget Editor
Kurt is a retired tax attorney living in the Madison valley. He practiced with large law firms for over 30 years, representing corporate and tax-exempt clients in strategic, transactional and regulatory compliance matters. As a lawyer, he received numerous accolades and awards for his competence, client service and integrity.
Although Kurt worked primarily in the Midwest, he has been a frequent visitor to, and part-time resident of, Madison County since the mid 1980s. His family has maintained a residence near Ennis for over 35 years, where Kurt and his wife, Derval Fitzsimons, now enjoy retirement life as full-time residents.
Kurt has enjoyed studying the history of American west for his entire adult life. His fascination with the Virginia City and Alder Gulch story led to a desire to become actively involved in preservation efforts. He joined the VCPA Board in 2019 and became Editor of the Nugget at that time.