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President's Message: The 60th Anniversary of the APTA - What Is Our Future?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The 60th Anniversary of the APTA - What Is Our Future?

On November 8, 1951, a group of very far-sighted women formed the APTA in order to preserve and maintain Tennessee’s rich cultural heritage. We are one of the oldest historic preservation organizations in the United States. The goals of this initial group are further described in the APTA’s charter and by-laws. Sixty years later the APTA continues to carry out these goals. I wish I had known these women so that I could have absorbed some of their vision for the future. As I look back upon my years as a board member and then President of the APTA I think we have accomplished much. We have a stable organization, we have helped to preserve our sites, and I believe we have become a “preservation player” in this state. We have and are reaching out to other historic and preservation organizations.

But we can’t rest on our laurels and past successes. The APTA has to continue to reinvent itself. As our organization has aged so has our membership. We have lost so many fine and valuable members in recent years. To survive, this organization and the chapters must seek new members constantly. Not only must we sign up new members, we must get them involved in our programs. In line with this goal, we must attract young members. We must embrace the new technologies that come with younger members. The youth are our future.

I am probably preaching something I have brought up before. I don’t want to sound like a broken record. We must set goals for new membership and achieve these goals. I urge our board and all the chapters to start membership campaigns immediately. To accomplish what we need to do in this state we need, in my opinion, at least 3500 members. We are far short of that number. But we need active members who want to participate in the preservation of our history and its structures.
Money is tight and the economy is in a heavy recession. Having said this I believe the APTA is not only a “survivor’ but it is also a necessity. We are a necessary element in the preservation movement in this state. My challenge to each of you is to extend the opportunity to join the APTA to everyone you know. We need them and the preservation movement needs them. With their help the APTA will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2051!