After its 2020 event was cancelled and this year’s affair was postponed from March, both because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual Preservation Gala will return July 10.
Themed “Soiree on the Savanna,” it will be held at Zoo Atlanta’s Savanna Hall, a refurbished event space that overlooks its African Savanna area that includes elephants, giraffes, zebras, warthogs birds and other wildlife.
“The gala itself is such a unique event in that we change the space every year, and this year was one of the first larger events to be held in the newly reimagined Savanna Hall,” said Tiffany Alewine, a Savannah resident who is co-chairing this year’s gala with her husband Blake. “It’s already a night to remember in regards to seeing people from not only Atlanta but all over the state and beyond who come together to celebrate the preservation work in the state.
“This is the largest fundraising event we have each year, and the support goes to the continued restoration and preservation of Georgia’s treasures, whether sprinkled in big towns or small towns throughout the state. (Donors) know their dollars are going to places in need all over the state preserving and protecting treasures that they hold dear for future generations to enjoy.”
Opened in 1921, Savanna Hall previously housed the Atlanta Cyclorama until it moved to the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead in 2017. Since then the space has been refurbished into a 25,000-square-foot event venue that includes its historic façade, the original interior terra cotta brick walls and original light fixtures on its front terraces, opening last year.
With the pandemic still in effect, Alewine said the trust has taken precautions to follow all CDC and state health and safety guidelines on large-scale events, including reducing capacity and making it a gala offering guests indoor and outdoor options “to make people feel more comfortable and safe.”
This year’s event will honor six Atlanta preservationists and longtime trust volunteers: Teri and Mose Bond and Georgia Schley Ritchie and Diff Ritchie, all of Ansley Park, and Carey and Bill Peard of Buckhead.
“Honestly, our honorees could not be a more perfect fit for this year. They have been absolutely phenomenal preservationists and tremendous supporters of the trust for many years,” Alewine said.
The Bonds moved and restored an early 1800s Union Point home, belonging to Teri’s family, to Highlands, North Carolina. The Peards have refurbished five Georgia homes, including their current residence, a 1920s Mediterranean-style house. The Ritchies restored a Victorian house in London and today live in one of the original Ansley Park homes. Also, Georgia grew up St. Elmo, a historic home in Columbus, where her parents were involved in local preservation activities.
“I’m very honored to be in the company of such esteemed people as Mose and Teri Bond and Bill and Carey Peard. I think it’s great. It’s been a long way, but it will be all the sweeter because of that,” Georgia said, referring to the postponement of this year’s gala.
Mose added, “We are honored to be honored and very flattered. We’ve enjoyed our experiences with the trust and our interest initially started as a member by attending these Rambles, which are the visits we make to various towns and communities across the state.”
The honorees said they’re excited this year’s gala will take place at Savanna Hall.
“It’s a building of significance that’s been restored, so it’s right on point for our organization,” Georgia said. “I think it will be a great addition to Atlanta’s event spaces. I’m excited to see how the event flows. … It’s another good example of what could be done with a historic venue rather than just tear it down. Here in Ansley Park, we’re seeing a lot of (teardowns).”
Mose added, “Savanna Hall is … a place that people have not seen because of the pandemic, and there’ve been a lot of wonderful improvements out there that provide a spot that will make for a unique setting and a chance to see a building that’s been preserved.”
Alewine said despite the pandemic, the gala has already reached and exceeded its fundraising goal and is nearly sold out.
“We were not only overwhelmed by our loyal supporters but also new supporters this year,” she said. “… We’re so grateful to all of our patrons and sponsors this year.”
Tickets to the gala are $150 for trust members and $250 for nonmembers, and sponsorships are still available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.georgiatrust.org.