As we prepare for the 50th anniversary year, I can’t help but stop and reflect on the legacy of this organization. It was started in 1967 by a band of brothers and sisters determined to save the c. 1820 Church-Waddel-Brumby House from demolition brought on by urban renewal in downtown Athens.
Those founders laid the groundwork for a future ACHF characterized by a mix of education and advocacy: historic resource surveys, National Register nominations, annual preservation awards, home tours, publications, local activism, last-minute attempts to save buildings, fundraising, and so on.
Without ACHF we wouldn’t have the Church-Waddel-Brumby House (Athens Welcome Center) and we might not have the Franklin House downtown, Fire Hall No. 1 at The Classic Center, the Wray-Nicholson House (now UGA’s Office of Alumni Affairs), the Adcock Building, and the Oconee Street School.
But these are just the obvious victories. ACHF was also instrumental in the adoption of a local historic preservation ordinance in 1986 that has protected thousands of historic properties.
But as we head into our 50th year, we’d be remiss if we did not ask “How can ACHF serve the community today?” Honestly, there’s a part of me that wishes there wasn’t a need for ACHF – that we could brush our hands off, say “well-done,” and move on, but that’s not the case. A-CC’s historic buildings and places are what make this community tick, and there continues to be a need for education and advocacy to increase awareness and promote public policies and decision-making that protect historic buildings and encourage, and even reward, their reuse.
So, that is our challenge and our commitment to you—to continue to strive to fulfill those needs, and we invite you to join us this next year as we celebrate and rededicate ourselves to this mission.