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Demystifying Grant Park’s Nonprofits

Part 6: The Atlanta Preservation Center

By Ashley Zhu

The Atlanta Preservation Center (APC) is the oldest nonprofit for historic preservation in Atlanta, according to Executive Director David Mitchell. Founded in 1979, the APC aims to serve as advocates of the Grant Park community as a whole, and much more.

A large focus of APC’s mission is to host programs and to highlight various Atlanta and Atlanta-area landmarks. For example, they host an event called the “A to Z Camp” along with Zoo Atlanta, attended by children from City of Refuge, a Christian nonprofit. During this experience, children are introduced to historic preservation by “visiting historic spaces and hearing stories of the past.”

“We are proud of the partnership with the Zoo, and the fact that kids coming from City of Refuge – who don’t have some of the traditional experiences that we would like to see [all] our children have – we’re able to do that through the craft of historic preservation,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell added that the program also partners with other institutions, including the Fox Theatre and the State Capitol, altogether providing a “thorough” and “thoughtful” camp for children to experience the cultural spaces of Atlanta through a preservation lens.

During the month of March, the APC coordinates and markets the Phoenix Flies series around Metro Atlanta. These free events take place at various historic sites and other points of interest, depending on the year. 

“[When Atlanta’s] oldest house or oldest park [serve as] the impetus for camp for these kids, it’s a pretty big deal” Mitchell said, referring to the APC’s headquarters, the L.P. Grant Mansion, and Grant Park itself, respectively. 

Furthermore, APC works with Atlanta public schools to preserve educational institutions. They have been heavily involved with the preservation and activation of Lakewood Elementary School. Mitchell noted that when repurposing a space, it is critical to keep the framework of the original structure.

The Odd Fellows Building and Auditorium, located on Auburn Avenue, was also restored with the help of APC’s efforts. One of their interns, a high school student, was instrumental in picking out a paint color for the window trim of the building that exactly matched the original trim color that existed in 1912.

“I think it’s pretty cool that you have a bunch of professional people getting together with all the materials, but then bringing in a high school student and letting his input be present and utilizing it,” Mitchell said. “If you drive down Auburn Avenue, you will see a color that, ultimately, we all agreed [should be the student’s pick]. And I think [that’s] pretty damn neat.”

Being headquartered in a neighborhood that is commonly regarded as a landmark district of the City of Atlanta, APC’s role in preserving the historic integrity of Grant Park is vital, according to Mitchell. 

“Having us as an anchor — and the first structure in that space — really provides something for Grant Park, [and] is unparalleled anywhere else in the city,” Mitchell added.

This article is part six of six detailing the major nonprofits operating in Grant Park. Ashley Zhu is a current student at Emory University and a regular contributor to The Porch Press

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