A new exhibit on display in the rotunda of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries examines the history of a preservation non-profit celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2017. On display through August 25, Saving Athens: Celebrating 50 Years of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation looks at the efforts of this local group to protect and preserve the the physical history of the Athens, Georgia.
Urban renewal swept through America’s cities in the decades following World War II, making way for modern buildings and roadways with the teardown of many historic structures. The loss of New York City’s Pennsylvania Station in 1963 sparked public outcry and led to the passage of the National Preservation Act (1966), signaling the start of a national preservation movement. Although the legislation did not prevent the demolition of historic properties, the text of the act prompted citizens to consider what physical elements from the past might be preserved for future benefit. The late 1960s saw the emergence of community advocacy groups focused on local historic preservation efforts across the country, with citizens fighting against teardowns and in favor of the rehabilitation of historic properties.
Founded in 1967, the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation (ACHF) has been a proactive force in developing community-wide understanding of the value of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and heritage for the past fifty years in Athens, Georgia. From its humble start as a small group of dedicated volunteers who rallied to save the Church-Waddel-Brumby House from demolition, to an organization that today serves as the leading advocate for historic preservation in Athens, ACHF has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the community it serves.
This exhibition highlights the history and work of ACHF from 1967 to 2017. The display is one part of a larger series of events to be hosted throughout 2017 in celebration the 50th anniversary of this preservation non-profit. A pubic reception celebrating the exhibit will take place on Wednesday, July 19 from 12:00-2:00 p.m. in the building's rotunda.