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Hoosier History Live


Apr 26, 2019

(April 20, 2019) Among distinguished Hoosiers in public life, few have been associated with historic preservation more closely - or longer - than former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randy Shepard.

Former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randy Shepard.A trustee for 11 years for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a former board chair (and current honorary chair) of Indiana Landmarks, Justice Shepard grew up in Evansville. In an article about him in the March/April issue of Indiana Preservation, Justice Shepard traces his interest in historic buildings to his teenage years during the 1960s, when he marveled at historic architecture on his daily trip to Evansville Central High School, which was - and remains - among the oldest public high schools in continuous operation west of the Alleghenies. During the 1970s, the school moved to a new building, and Old Central was demolished to create a parking lot.

Justice Shepard, who was the longest-serving chief justice in Indiana history when he retired in 2012, is Nelson's studio guest to discuss the role of historic preservation in building stronger communities across Indiana.

Currently a visiting professor at the IU McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, Justice Shepard also shares insights about Indiana's constitutional history, particularly on issues such as slavery and individual rights.

He also discusses the ways that state history likely influenced young Abraham Lincoln, who lived in southern Indiana from ages 7 to 21 - the future president's "formative years," as Justice Shepard puts it. Lincoln moved to what is now Spencer County from Kentucky with his parents and sister in 1816, the same year Indiana became a state.

A seventh-generation Hoosier, Justice Shepard has held several national leadership posts in the legal profession, including serving as chairman of the Conference of Chief Justices. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale University Law School. In the book Justices of the Supreme Court (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010), he is praised for his "wisdom, plain English and independence."

According to the Indiana Preservation article, Justice Shepard's passion for preserving historic structures even had an impact on his family life. He met his wife, Ohio native Amy MacDonell, when she was visiting Evansville during National Historic Preservation Week.