For many Old Towne residents, restoring and renovating historic property in this one-of-a-kind community is a labor of love. Though those who bring historic buildings back to their former glory do so because they see it as the right thing to do, it’s certainly satisfying to be recognized for their efforts. That’s why the Old Towne Orange Preservation Association (OTPA) started the OTPA awards dinner two decades ago.
“The Preservation Awards Gala, which is May 15th this year, is an important event for the community,” says OTPA Preservation Chairman Jeff Frankel, who heads up the preservation awards nominations and judging. “It’s important for the homeowners and merchants to get recognition for their hard work. They’ve gone over and above what’s required for preservation, restoration or rehabilitation of a structure. Honoring those individuals who have done a superior job encourages others to follow suit.”
Recognition for adhering to continuing history in Orange is commendable, agrees current OTPA president Sandy Quinn. “It might be cheaper and easier to make certain changes to a structure that aren’t historic, but those changes aren’t true to the original. Those owners who remain true despite the challenges deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. They receive a nice plaque suitable for hanging.”
Awards presented at the event are voted by independent judges. These awards include the Sweet, Sweet Orange Award for outstanding preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of a historic residential building, the Pitcher Park Award for exceptional landscape or garden enhancement on a historic site in Old Towne, the Good Neighbor Award, which recognizes a new structure, or a non-contributing in-fill project and the Plaza City Award for superior restoration, preservation, adaptive reuse or enhancement of a historic commercial, industrial or public-use property.
At the gala, they also announce the winner of the Anne Siebert scholarship, which is named after a late philanthropic community member and offers scholarship money to students studying preservation in college.
In addition to spreading cheer with the awards, the gala is a chance for likeminded residents to connect and talk about preservation, says Frankel.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the OTPA, a nonprofit started in 1986 by a group of citizens dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the one-square mile area of Old Towne that contains more than 1,400 historically significant, pre-1940 structures. In 1997, thanks to the OTPA, Old Towne Orange became a member of National Historic District and landed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Preservation Awards Gala is May 15th at the Woman’s Club of Orange in the Plaza. Festivities begin at 5:30 pm in the garden for hors d’oeuvres and drinks and then move indoors for dinner and awards.
Published in the Mar/Apr 2016 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Julie Bawden-Davis, Photo provided by OTPA