Preserving Georgetown one building at a time
In 1976, four Georgetown women who had worked together on the local bicentennial events and were inspired by the new nationwide interest in historic preservation—Lynn Storm Burnette, Clare Easley Mashburn, Clara Scarbrough, and Joanne Morse—got together under the auspices of preserving the history and the historic buildings of their fair city.
Calling themselves the Georgetown Heritage Society, the small team quickly recruited 12 additional members and held their first official meeting in April 1977. They immediately began working with city and county leaders and community nonprofits to restore the Georgetown Square, and the historic district beyond, to its original glory.
Over the years, members of the society worked with the city of Georgetown and others to establish local traditions, including the annual Christmas Stroll, and revive others, like May Fair, predecessor of today’s Red Poppy Festival. The society was instrumental in such projects as the effort to gain the designation of Texas Main Street city, the Williamson County Courthouse dome restoration, and the relocation and renovation of Old Grace Church, which became the Heritage Society’s office.
Forty years later, and the Heritage Society remains alive and well, but with a new name—Preservation Georgetown (PG), as announced at the organization’s 40th anniversary celebration in February. “Our new name is a reflection of the PG mission and vision for the future,” says Amanda Parr, PG president. “As we celebrate 40 years, we honor the work and dedication of our founders and strive to continue their legacy for years to come.”
To that end, the PG Preservation Fund supports and funds the organization’s two-year-old Preservation Grant Program, which helps with the cost of preserving Georgetown’s historic structures. Through the grant program, PG awarded funds to five applicants in 2016 and has recently reviewed 2017 applications.
Grants are funded through donations to the Preservation Fund, as well as by monies raised through special events held by PG. “Our signature event is the Holiday Home Tour,” says Amanda. “In the past 40 years, it has become a well-established holiday tradition in Georgetown and is our largest fundraiser.” The Home Tour is held annually on the second weekend of December.
PG’s recently revised mission, “To preserve and promote Georgetown’s heritage through preservation advocacy, education, and community engagement,” is supported by continued expansion of PG membership. Individual memberships are $25, and family memberships are $45, with membership dues going toward the organization’s operations budget. “We are sharing our vision with as many people as possible,” Amanda says. “We welcome all members. You don’t have to live in Old Town to have a desire to preserve our town’s history.”
To become a member, make a donation, or to learn more about Preservation Georgetown and its many accomplishments, visit georgetownheritagesociety.org.