Happy New Year everyone! This past year was unique for sure. The Covid-19 virus caused many closures and changes in plans, including temporary closure of our Oak Ridge History Museum. Despite the pandemic there were numerous activities during 2020, here are some of the highlights.
Jan 16, A Volunteers Luncheon was held for all of those that gave their time and talents in support of the museum (ORHM). The luncheon was put on by Betty Stokes and Emily Hunnicutt, co-chairs of the Museum Committee, and the event included some training and sharing of ideas to make the museum visitor experience better.
Jan 18, ORHPA hosted the ORHS Choral Group and Jazz Band in the Wildcat Den Room. It was a huge turnout, all 144 chairs were used and it was standing room only for an excellent program (1940’s theme), one we should plan again in the future.
Feb, Early voting at the Midtown Community Center, and other ones in July and October.
Feb 13, ORHPA Monthly Membership Meeting, guest speaker Pat Ezzell, TVA historian spoke at the Den. Ms. Ezzell gave a very informative presentation, as it turned out the last one we have had in our building due to the covid virus. Many of us are looking forward to meeting in our building again.
Feb 26, DOE meeting at K-25 concerning the Memorandum of Agreement to properly tell the history of the K-25 Site. The meeting was held with numerous consulting parties to the MOA, including representatives from the ORHPA. The ORHPA went on record noting that DOE has failed to meet certain MOA stipulations, most notably the promised 60 foot observation tower to view the 44 acre K-25 footprint.
Feb 27, Ribbon cutting and grand opening of the K-25 History Center. Although it is currently closed, everyone is encouraged to see this remarkable history center.
March, Tours and visits to the ORHM. Don Hunnicutt and I gave a few tours to groups in early March, but canceled most other requests by mid-March due to Covid-19 virus concerns.
March 19, The ORHPA program developed by Don and Emily Hunnicutt to celebrate the Oak Ridge Gate Opening of March 19, 1949 was canceled due to covid concerns.
March 21, the Spring Clean Up on our property and the adjacent school property, and coordinated with the city and other groups was also canceled. Will plan another clean up in the future.
April – Aug, Improvements were made throughout our building thanks to the state grant, and generous donations from Al Wulff, ORHS Class of ’67. Hats off to president Terry Domm, the Museum Committee, Don Hunnicutt (Bldg Mngr) and others for an excellent job managing projects such as all new lighting, a security system, new display areas, large screen TV, new landscaping and many other improvements.
Aug 6, Oak Ridge celebrated the 65th Anniversary of the Desegregation of Oak Ridge Schools. Thanks go to Martin McBride and Rose Weaver for coordinating the program and celebration, this was the first time the Oak Ridge 85 were celebrated in a big way.
Aug 7, The Oak Ridge Playhouse held the unveiling of the roadside historical marker celebrating one of the longest continuously running playhouses in the southeast U.S. The ORHPA and others contributed to the effort, and a special thanks go to Senator Ken Yager’s office for speeding up the long process.
Aug 19, Several of us met with members of the Lions Club outside our building to hear of a project to create an outdoor display that will showcase Oak Ridge history. Stay tuned as this develops.
Sep 21, In early September, members of the Historic Properties Committee began the process of looking at candidate properties, structures, etc., for the 2020 ORHPA Historic Preservation Award. On Sep 21, the award was presented to the Calvary Lighthouse Church, known as the East Chapel in the early years. Accepting the award and our thanks for good stewardship was Rev. Delaney, church pastor.
Oct, Early Voting again, and election day Nov 3, this broke all records regarding heavy use of the Midtown Community Center. Many thousands of voters used our building without major concerns reported.
Nov, The Oak Ridge Outdoor Pool was reported to be endangered by the Oak Ridger, stirring concern in the community. The ORHPA is involved in discussion on this issue with the C.O.R. Recreation and Parks Department, and we have been assured by their director Jon Hetrick that no decisions are to be made for a year and they want input from the ORHPA concerning our iconic and historic pool. More on this issue later, as well as other historic properties, former Red Cross Building, etc.
Dec 10, ORHPA Annual Meeting via Zoom, and election to board of directors. Thanks go out to all of our board members, committee members, volunteers and supporters of the ORHPA for their help during a difficult year. Improvements continue to be made to the ORHM (new Ed Westcott display, etc) that you will enjoy, hopefully soon as things reopen. Chair of the Membership Committee, Betty Williams has a promotion for 2021 where members can renew as usual, but bring in a new member FREE! This is a great opportunity to boost our membership, please see if you can bring in a new member to the ORHPA.
I’m looking ahead to the new year, …maybe more fun in 2021! If you have comments or ideas you want to share please let me know.
Mick Wiest, ORHPA executive director