As we begin to plan for 2022 it is good to first review the past year. Given it was another year of Covid concerns I was surprised at how busy we were.
ORHPA held a membership meeting in January via Zoom that provided an update on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Guest speakers were Niki Nicholas (National Park Service) and Jonathan Sitzlar (DOE). Much work lies ahead for this new national park in opening up more sites and experiences to the public.
In late January Oak Ridgers lost another historic site. The old stone house on the east end of the turnpike was demolished just a few weeks after a local developer bought the property. Known as the Hackworth House, but listed in the National Register (NRHP) as the Brannon House the granite building could have served a number of uses. The ORHPA voiced our concern that we were not consulted on the demolition as is appropriate for properties listed in the NRHP.
A major improvement to the ORHPA website was made thanks to the efforts of our webmaster Ken Mayes working with a web specialist. Check it out at .. oakridgeheritage.com. Among the improvements is the easier method to make donations and renew membership.
Covid concerns continued into the spring, and Zoom meetings became more common for ORHPA Board and other meetings.
Work on our building related to the state grant officially closed. Numerous improvements were made with the $80,000 grant, including new floors, new lighting, improved security, and many new exhibits to our museum. Thanks go to everyone involved in this major accomplishment!
Unrelated to the grant, our insurance paid the majority of the roof replacement completed in April.
In April the ORHPA attended the installation of the Poplar Creek Seminary historical marker on Hwy 58 within view of the Wheat Church. This was a replacement sign for the original that was broken.
Also, in late April we lost one of our early members, Bill Henry passed away at 91. Bill was widely known for his wood carving, or whittling as he called it, he has
some of his work on display at the Smithsonian. Bill was a great man in many ways.
In May we discussed with the board about reopening the Oak Ridge History Museum since the covid vaccine was readily available, Emily Hunnicutt, museum coordinator presented a training for the volunteers and the museum reopened June 1. A few more museum volunteers would be appreciated.
The city decided to move the Secret City Festival to Sep this year. The ORHPA S.C. Festival chair Bobbie Martin and I met with Naomi Asher representing the city to adjust to the new plans, as it turned out the city canceled the festival, except for the music. Even so, Bobbie organized some displays including a new one by Tom Walker and “the show went on” in the Den Room.
The ORHPA was fortunate to have the Oak Ridge 85 exhibition in the Den Room for all of Sep. Rose Weaver, Martin McBride and committee worked for many months developing the exhibit that tells the story of 85 young students from Scarboro who integrated Oak Ridge schools for the first time in 1955, the first public school system to do so in the southeast U.S. A special membership meeting was held Sep 9 to give our members insight into this part of our history by meeting some of those students that were a part of the Oak Ridge 85 and hearing their stories.
Also in Sep, the ORHPA Historic Preservation Award was presented as it is every year. The Majic Wok won the award this year, and the plaque was accepted by “Miss Betty” Wang and husband Jim who own and operate the eatery in the early Oak Ridge trailer that dates to the 1940s. This award is our way of saying thanks to those that help preserve our unique Oak Ridge history.
In Nov the ORHPA held a membership meeting via Zoom with guest presenter Cindy Kelly, founder and president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation. Cindy gave the history of the AHF and an update on their activities.
In Dec the ORHPA held our Annual Meeting and election of officers in person at our building. Part of the meeting included a presentation by Don Hunnicutt of Fire Prevention Week in Oak Ridge in the 1950s that brought laughs and a reminder of how much has changed over time.
These were just some of the highlights for 2021, there were other worthy notes and activities. There are opportunities for members to join a committee, volunteer for the museum, just 2 hours a week is helpful, or ask me about helping with a special project. Stay tuned.
Looking forward to 2022. Thank you all!