Georgia Trust holds its annual meeting in Columbus next weekend

For its 35th anniversary, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, decided to have its celebration in Columbus April 4-6.

For the past year, the Historic Columbus Foundation's staff have been busy planning the weekend meeting.

The last time the state meeting was in Columbus was 2000. It was at that meeting that MidTown Inc. was born.

"Greg Paxton, the former head of the Georgia Trust and Teresa Tomlinson and John Sheftall had a casual conversation" about the next big area that needed attention in Columbus, said former HCF executive director Susan Lawhorne.

Tomlinson now heads MidTown Inc., while historian Sheftall is a MidTown resident.

When HCF was asked to host the meeting again this year, Lawhorne decided the theme would be "Discover Columbus: MidTown, Uptown . . . Rivertown!"

"We're always trying to promote MidTown," said Carroll Hudson, the HCF director of development and marketing. "There is so much happening in MidTown."

This weekend's Spring Ramble isn't just about MidTown, though. There will be rambles through downtown Columbus and Bibb City's RiverMill Event Centre.

In Columbus the designated historic areas are the original downtown Historic District, High Uptown, Dinglewood, Wynn's Hill–Overlook, Peacock Woods–Dimon Circle, Hillcrest–Wildwood Circle, Wynnton Village and Liberty Heritage.

"Columbus is such a great site," said Traci Clark, the Georgia Trust's director of communications. "You have so many historic buildings and houses. It's a beautiful town. We're looking forward to coming back to celebrate our 35th anniversary."

The Georgia Trust began seven years after the HCF in 1973.

"A lot of the local ones got their start first," Clark said. "In 1973, we saw a need for a statewide organization. One of the early projects was helping to save the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta.

"A lot of times, saving an important building in the area is the impetus for organizing these groups," Clark said.

In Columbus, HCF began after the success of saving the Springer Opera House.

Hudson says it takes a lot of planning and a lot of volunteers to organize an event like this.

"We have to find the best sites to showcase our city," Hudson said. "We have about 60 volunteers working."

In eight years, she was astounded to find all the new sites, including the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, the Columbus State University fine arts division's downtown headquarters, the renovation of the Eagle/Phenix Mills and RiverMill Event Centre, the Columbus Public Library and the 21st Condominiums.

"In a way, it's a great way to show off these homes and real estate," Hudson said.

What: "The Spring Ramble: Discover Columbus: Midtown, Uptown . . . Rivertown!," the annual meeting of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation

Friday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. registration at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road. Midtown Ramble, tours of the Columbus Museum and the museum's Olmstead Garden, Wynnton Arts Academy Library, Butt-Banks House, Hillcrest, the Illges-Norman House, the Carson McCullers House and the Midtown 21st Condominiums, 1-4 p.m. Cocktails at Dinglewood, dinner at Gordonido and dessert at the Wynn House, 6-9:30 p.m.

Saturday: Registration at 8:30 a.m.-noon, RiverMill Event Centre, 3715 First Ave. Annual meeting and preservation awards ceremony, 9 a.m.-noon, RiverMill Event Centre. Lunch & Learn, includes tours of the former historic cotton mill at the RiverMill Event Centre, noon. Uptown Rumble, with tours of the Eagle-Phenix Condos, W.C. Bradley Co. Museum, Springer Opera House, Columbus State University River Park Campus, the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus and the Ma Rainey House, 1-5 p.m. 35th anniversary reception and dinner, Columbus Convention & Trade Center, 6 p.m.

Sunday: Brunch in Historic Linwood Cemetery, with tours of the cemetery, 9-11 a.m.

Tickets: $205 for the whole weekend; $155 for Saturday-Sunday; $85 for Friday only; $95 for Saturday only; $27 for the Sunday brunch; $25 for students (no meals included); $20 for children 13 and younger (no meals included)

Registration deadline: 5 p.m. Friday, Columbus Public Library

Joining the Georgia Trust: $35; $50 for families

Information: 706-322-0756