Formation of The Georgia Trust
The Georgia Trust was formed by a small group of individuals who were passionate about preserving the state's historic built environment and saw a need for a non-profit organization that could focus on a statewide effort to preserve it.
The organization grew out of a series of statewide annual preservation conferences held between 1969 and 1973. From the enthusiasm of these early conferences came together an effort to form the Trust.
During those five formative years between 1969 and 1973, the energy from previous statewide conferences was growing, and the Georgia Historical Commission was coming to an end due to Governor Carter's reorganization of state government.
Ultimately, at the 1973 conference held in Macon, the creation of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation was announced. The theme of the Macon conference that year was "Preservation - Our Trust." The new organization was chartered on April 12, 1973.
The organization's first president was Mary Gregory Jewett, an organizing force behind the founding of the Trust. The founding chairman was Bill Griffin, who secured the Trust's charter from the State of Georgia. The first vice president was Marguerite Williams, whose longtime committment to preservation led to her receiving the National Trust for Historic Preservation's highest honor, the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award, in 1997.
During its charter year, the young fledgling organization grew to over 1,000 dues-paying members due to a successful membership drive led by Marguerite Williams.
Thirty-nine years later, the grassroots group has become one of the largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations in the country.
Headquarters of The Georgia Trust
The headquarters of the Trust has not always been the beautifully restored Rhodes Hall. The organization's first office was located inside a bank building in Decatur. A year later, in 1975, the Trust moved to 9 Baltimore Place, also known as Baltimore Block. The 1885 structure was Atlanta's first apartment building, but by the time the Trust had moved in, it had already evolved into mixed-use space. The Trust moved to Unit 11 in 1979, and a few years later, Baltimore Block was sold to a developer for rehabilitation.
In 1983, the Trust moved its headquarters to a state-owned property on Peachtree Street – otherwise known as Rhodes Hall. At the time, the "Castle on Peachtree" was in dire need of restoration work. Birds were finding their way in through holes in the ceiling, plaster was cracking and falling to the floor, and the grand staircase and stained glass windows had been removed to the State Archives for safe keeping.
To restore Rhodes Hall, the Trust held fundraisers such as the Preservation Ball and highly popular Haunted Castle. Over time, Rhodes Hall was returned to her original grandeur.