ACHF Year in Review 2010-2011

From ACHF Executive Director, Amy Kissane:

I want to express my thanks to the trustees, and, in particular, I want to thank the nine trustees who came on the board a year ago. We needed them to step up immediately and they did. Of the nine, one was an officer and six chaired committees, and the majority of them are continuing next year as committee chairs. That is extraordinary, and it made all the difference. So, thank you and thanks to all the trustees who work so hard. When we say this is a “working board,” we’re not kidding.

It’s an interesting exercise to look back at the year because there are always things that you forget. Much of this past year has been about laying the groundwork—based on the 2010 strategic plan—for future directions and initiatives. That’s hard work because the fruits of that labor don’t show immediately. So, I want to especially thank and compliment Jennifer Lewis, who steps down as president tonight, for her tireless—and I mean tireless efforts, in pursuing changes and improvements that we’ve only begun to see the benefit of. Thank you, Jennifer.

And now, a quick look back at the ACHF 2010-2011.

One way or another, just about everything the foundation does has an educational component.
Athens Heritage Walks added 7 new tours—gave 23 tours total— and entertained and educated over 500 tour-goers during the fall series.

The Foundation has received a $6,000 grant from the Watson-Brown Jr. Board to partially fund the professional videotaping of 12 of our Heritage Walks this coming fall. Trustee Lisa Dore was instrumental in writing the grant, and Trustees Janet Patterson and Peggy Galis were generous enough to provide needed matching donations for the project.
We laid the groundwork for three significant education initiatives: Preservation Matters, an annual lecture series that will focus on a topic of interest, such as historic preservation and sustainability; My Home, My Town, My World , a heritage education program aimed at primary and secondary school children; and Scout Days, whereby scouts spend days earning badges related to local history and preservation.

Community Engagement and Advocacy
ACHF was founded on advocacy when it saved the Church-Waddel-Brumby House from urban renewal.  While the nature of advocacy has changed over the years, the key to success is partnerships and building awareness of the value of historic preservation.  This past year the foundation partnered with various groups, financially supported others, and worked through the channels of public information to foster historic preservation and guide local decisions.

Some of our efforts included:
Working with the Athens High and Industrial School to obtain a Georgia State Historic Marker for the original site of the school.
Serving as the umbrella organization for charitable donations to the Ben Epps Memorial Statue Fundraising campaign.
Providing a $13,500 loan—from our Revolving Fund—to Children First for the rehabilitation of their historic Pope Street headquarters and donating the funds raised from Charlotte Marshall’s tour of Oconee Hill Cemetery to the Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery.
Working with local stakeholders to try to save the St. Mary’s Steeple.
We’ve also had representatives involved in the Classic Center Expansion project and the Downtown Development Authority’s vision and master plan efforts for downtown.
In addition the foundation has provided technical assistance to numerous property owners, including several Milledge Avenue fraternities and sororities.
And, last but not least, our Preservation Awards program that recognizes the true preservation heroes of our community.

As a private nonprofit organization, the Foundation is heavily dependent upon its members, not just because of your membership dues, but also because of the volunteer work you do and because you are our voice out in the community.  As a thank you, we like to have several events throughout the year that are free to members and take you to historic places that you might not otherwise see.

Some of the events from this past year were:
The 2010 Fall Fun-n-Friends at the historic Athens Cotton and Wool Factory off of Oconee Street; the factory is one of Athens’ oldest landmarks and was rehabilitated by the University of Georgia to serve as as their Interim Medical Partnership Building.
The Spring Fun-n-Friends at Nuci’s Space, focused on the current plight of the St. Mary’s Steeple and talked about the history of the church and that area of town.
The Athenaeum Club – which meets for “happy hour” for behind-the-scenes tours of interesting historic spaces about town – held events at five sites last year: Terrapin, Melting Point, Cine, Stegeman Coliseum and the Georgia Theatre. (Just so you know, ALL are welcome!)
Finally, our third Annual Fund raised over $6,000.  Thanks to each of you who contributed to it this year.

Fundraising Events
ACHF fundraisers are larger events that are designed to provide a unique experience to the community while raising awareness of the importance of historic preservation.  This year’s fundraisers were:
Holly-Days on Henderson, our traditional holiday party and tour, featured four historic homes on Henderson Avenue hosted by Joan and Gary Bertsch, Peggy and Denny Galis, and Jennifer McDowell and Brett Clementz. Next year’s holiday party and tour is scheduled for Sunday, December 4th so make plans to start your holiday season with us next year.
Our first ever Historic Downtown Pub Crawl, organized by the Athenaeum Club. The foundation partnered with Terrapin and took over 40 participants to five historic downtown bars, each one serving a full pint.
Two new faces will be joining us next year on our Special Events Committee – Alex Sams will be chairing the committee and new member Nicholas Mallis is already in the process of planning a fall benefit concert that will feature a collection of up-and-coming local bands.

Athens Welcome Center/Historic Museum Properties
The Foundation is housed in the historic Fire Hall #2, administers the Athens Welcome Center and the c. 1820 Church-Waddel-Brumby House Museum, and owns the furnishings and decorative arts collection at the c. 1840 Ware-Lyndon House.  Some of our Museum highlights from the year were:

  • Athens Historic House Museum 3rd Annual Holiday Spirits Tour
  • Athens Welcome Center Faux Graining Workshop with Derrick Tickle.  (A man who paints with feathers named, “Tickle”.  Really.)
  • Church-Waddel-Brumby House Patron Reception and Plaque Dedication to celebrate the completion of the first floor furnishing campaign

Hands On Athens
Hands On Athens is a partnership of local organizations, businesses and churches that use volunteers to make repairs on low- to moderate-income homes that are older than 50 years old. Established in 1999, the program has grown from cleaning up one yard to working on more than a dozen homes during the course of a project weekend.   During our main spring weekend in April, Hands On Athens:
Worked on a total of 14 houses
Involved more than 300 volunteers
Received outstanding donated services from several new partners: College Pro Landscaping, Koons Environmental Design, New Urban Forestry, Tarzan Tree Care and USDA Forest Service.
This coming year, HOA will receive an additional $6,000 in funding from Athens-Clarke County, allowing us to take on more extensive roofing repairs through a cooperative arrangement with Bona Fide Construction, and
the program will add two “scaled-back” work weekends in the fall and on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January.

The Future…
Many new communications initiatives were launched or are in the works for next year, including:
Our Heritage newsletter is going again with a great new look, thanks to Michael Lachowski, Jennifer Lewis and Eleonora Machado.  We are pleased to have Kristen Bergman-Morales joining us a Editor-In-Chief!
Our logo was revamped and digitized by Michael Lachowski, who suggested we keep the iconic Fire Hall but give it a little fresher look, and is the first step in a new graphic identity campaign for ACHF.
We are now on Facebook and happy to report over 250 friends!  Keep up with us on Facebook here.
Finally, we’ll be working hard with Robb West of Barber Creek Design to launch a new and improved website.