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History of Historic Preservation
Georgia in a National Historic Preservation Program
In 1969 the GHC, spurred by the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA), expanded in a new direction that eventually led to today's multifaceted preservation program. The commission's executive director became the first state historic preservation officer, and the GHC became involved in surveys of historic and archaeological resources, entries to the National Register of Historic Places, historic building rehabilitation grants, preservation planning, and community preservation assistance. In 1973, when the GHC was abolished in a reorganization of state government, the new Department of Natural Resources assumed responsibility for its programs.
Also in 1973, in response to concern for the future of the public program and to increasing interest in historic preservation, the nonprofit Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation (GTHP) was founded. It has become the largest statewide preservation organization in the nation and one of the strongest. Existing preservation organizations, in cities large and small, grew and were joined by a myriad of new groups, numbering more than 500 by 1996. In 1979 a special issue of the Georgia Historical Quarterly dedicated to historic preservation recorded the developments of these early years.
Expanded Perspectives and Opportunities: Georgia Preservation Comes of Age
In 1980 two key pieces of legislation, one state and the other federal, stimulated the growth of Georgia's preservation programs. The Georgia Historic Preservation Act, passed through the advocacy efforts of the growing body of interested and active citizens, provided the authority for local historic preservation commissions. By 2000 there were eighty-seven such commissions in the state. The 1980 amendments to the NHPA set up the formal structure that now constitutes the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The GTHP, a key advocate for the 1980 state legislation, grew and began to achieve the financial stability that would allow it to support new programs.
Since that time Georgia's historic preservation movement has continued to succeed both in protecting resources that are now recognized to be a significant part of Georgia's history and in attracting more people who are interested in preserving them. The importance of African Americans in Georgia's history was highlighted in
Opportunities also came from unexpected sources. In 1992 Congress passed a transportation bill that provided enhancement funding for historic and natural resources associated with transportation routes and facilities. Many Georgia towns used this funding to restore railroad depots,
A New Millennium
Early in the 1990s two pivotal events strengthened Georgia's preservation programs for the new millennium. Both were made possible by a growing citizens' advocacy movement that influenced study committees of the Georgia legislature as well as state government and especially emphasized the economic benefits of historic preservation. First, a group of preservation leaders, led by the chair of the GTHP, persuaded the governor to begin a small grant fund for historic property rehabilitation, called Heritage 2000, which has slowly grown. This was followed by the elevation of the state historic preservation program to full division status within the Department of Natural Resources. This gave the program increased resources and influence that has greatly benefited historic preservation in Georgia.
Georgia's preservation system, like the nation's, may not be neatly structured and obvious. It is, however, built on an extensive,
Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Window on the Past: Door to Our Future (Atlanta: n.p., 1999).
Elizabeth A. Lyon, ed., "Historic Preservation in Georgia on the 30th Anniversary of the State Historic Preservation Offices, 1969-1999," Georgia Historical Quarterly 83 (spring 1999).
Phinizy Spalding, ed., "Historic Preservation in Georgia," Georgia Historical Quarterly 63 (spring 1979).
Elizabeth A. Lyon, Flowery Branch
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.