America’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976 sparked a nationwide interest in preservation. In Georgetown, a small group of citizens who had worked diligently on Georgetown’s Bicentennial celebration events also had a heightened awareness of historic resources at the local level. It was the vision of this group that led to the formation of the Georgetown Heritage Society in 1977.
On 26 January 1977 the first organizational meeting was held with four persons in attendance, Lynn Storm Burnette, Clare Easley Mashburn, Clara Scarbrough, and Joanne Morse. The organizational committee was immediately expanded to 16 persons for their second organizational meeting on 7 February. The first official meeting of the Georgetown Heritage Society was held on 14 April 1977. Lynn Burnett was elected the first president of the organization.
The initial goals and purposes of the Georgetown Heritage Society (GHS) were established at the 7 February meeting. “In order to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the Georgetown Area, the Corporation is formed for the following purposes: to assist in the preservation of buildings, markers, historical sites, works of art, documents, papers, pictures, records and writings of historical, traditional or cultural value; to perpetuate those customs of the people and traditions and folklore which seem to beautify and enrich the community life of the Georgetown Area; to discover and work toward areas of natural beauty and charm as well as those places of special natural history interests; to disseminate knowledge, promote interest, encourage study and research and act in an advisory capacity to interested groups of persons and organizations regarding those things already enumerated; and to cooperate with other persons, groups, organizations and agencies in effectuating these objectives.”
Meeting venues were initially varied including the Georgetown Public Library, several churches, and the Library, Mood Hall, and Union Building at Southwestern University. In 1991, the congregation of Grace Episcopal Church had outgrown their small church building constructed in 1881. The Diocese donated the building to the citizens of Georgetown and the building was moved to its current location at 811 Main Street. The church building was rehabilitated through a unique partnership between the City of Georgetown and the Heritage Society and it now serves as the location of the Heritage Society. Most meetings of the Society have been held at this Grace Center since 1991, although the Society has held a popular annual members picnic each year at various locations.
Among the Society’s lasting achievements that all Georgetown citizens still enjoy today are organizing the first Christmas Stroll, reviving the old traditional May Fair (now the Red Poppy Festival), starting the Georgetown History and Visitor Information Center (now run by the city) and, collecting a substantial repository of historic photographs and documents (now in the custody of the Georgetown Public Library). The Georgetown Heritage Society was instrumental in working with the City of Georgetown to obtain our first Main Street Designation and the Society has maintained an active role in preservation activities around the historic square.
Things To Do
DOWNTOWN WEST PUBLIC MEETING ON JULY 15
The City of Georgetown will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, July 15 to gather community input on the Downtown West project. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Hewlett Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street.
The Downtown West project involves the redevelopment of three existing City buildings with nearby improvements for festivals and events. The City has hired the Lawrence group, an architectural and planning company, to design the redevelopment project based on input from the City and the community.
The first phase of the project includes redeveloping the vacant 1987 former public library building at 808 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street (top photo) as City Hall, and redeveloping the Georgetown Communication and Technology Building at 510 W. Ninth Street (middle photo) as the Municipal Court building. (Click on photos for larger versions.)
A second phase involves developing programming and design concepts for the historic Light and Waterworks Building at 809 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street (bottom photo) and a proposed festival space along west Eighth Street.