The Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association will celebrate its 15th anniversary during a Thursday night meeting at the “Midway Gatehouse” on Scarboro Road. That’s the location of the group’s original meeting.
The anniversary meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, September 11. Parking is limited there. Organizers said those attending should consider parking at the nearby Y-12 Federal Credit Union and carpooling from there, or they could carpool with friends from the Midtown Community Center parking lot.
“Come by the Gatehouse anytime between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to enjoy refreshments, see displays, and view the historic building and its artifacts, as well as help celebrate 15 years as an organization,” a press release said.
Here is the story of how the ORHPA began:
Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association: How it started
By Mick Wiest
The ORHPA got its start on September 9, 1999, at the home of Mick and Teri Wiest. A group of friends had been invited over, and during the course of conversation it was said that Oak Ridge was losing too much of its history to demolition. Charlotte and Cheyenne Halls, the last of the original 92 full sized dormitory buildings were recently demolished, and the federally managed buildings did not receive a proper review under the National Historic Preservation Act. Mick called together a small group of concerned citizens in late September 1999, and monthly meetings have been held ever since.
At that time, there was no organized group promoting Oak Ridge heritage or preservation. There was an Oak Ridge Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1992); however, the city had no historic preservation plan.
The newly formed group discussed these and related concerns at its first meeting on September 9, 1999, held at the Midway Gatehouse, located near the Y-12 Plant on Scarboro Road. Among the founders of the ORHPA were Jim Kolb (treasurer), Steve Buxton (vice president), Mick Wiest (president), Dean Novelli (secretary), and members Bobbie Martin (secretary in 2000), Howard Harvey, and Ed Westcott (Manhattan Project official photographer). The gatehouse (a.k.a. checking station, guardhouse) continued to serve as the meeting place for the ORHPA until the former Senior Center (a.k.a. Wildcat Den), long vacant, was acquired from the city in 2001.
The ORHPA quickly organized, and received its charter from the state as an official 501(c)3 nonprofit in January, 2000. Following guidance from the Tennessee Historical Commission, the ORHPA created its mission statement, and soon grew to nearly 200 members. All who share an interest in the unique history of Oak Ridge are welcomed to join the ORHPA.
The Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association serves to promote historic preservation and the history of Oak Ridge’s heritage. Monthly meetings (open to the public) are held in the Midtown Community Center except when special “field trip” meetings are scheduled. ORHPA’s mission is to preserve Oak Ridge’s history and its built environment (early structures, etc.) and develop education and cultural resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Membership is open to all interested individuals.