Todd Morgan takes the lead of a historic preservation group in Chattanooga
Todd Morgan studied economics at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee, and his first job outside of school was at a bank. But an interest in architecture led him to city planning, historic preservation and similar endeavors, Morgan says.
About six months ago, the Knoxville native was named executive director of Preserve Chattanooga, known for many years as Cornerstones Inc. Preserve Chattanooga’s mission is to protect and defend Chattanooga’s architectural heritage, according to the group. Part of his work consists of facade easements that protect important historical sites such as Customs, the Tivoli Center and the Dome building.
Morgan, 52, says he feels Chattanooga is at a pivotal moment.
“It’s growing. The pressure is on for development,” he says.
But Morgan adds that it seems people enjoy taking historic places and turning them into places that are both new and interesting.
“It feels like a really good moment in time,” he says.
Morgan says Preserve Chattanooga is also funding a faculty-in-residence for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s historic preservation minor.
“It’s a way to involve young people in preservation and help them understand the significance of these buildings,” he says.
Preserve Chattanooga is the current owner of the historic Terminal Dome, which is the centerpiece of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex which opened in 1909. A plan is underway to preserve the passenger terminal and reinvent its use as a vibrant community asset, depending on the group.
“We want this to be the gateway to Chattanooga,” says Morgan.
After working in banking and working with an architect in Morristown, Tennessee, where he grew up, Morgan landed a job as an urban planner in this Upper East Tennessee community.
Morgan says he then created a partnership initiative in that city’s downtown and launched a frontage program tied to Main Street Tennessee, which serves as a statewide resource for communities looking to revitalize. and manage their traditional town centres.
In 2013 and 2014, he became director of Main Street Tennessee in Nashville. He then joined Knox Heritage, which is Knoxville’s preservation entity, and served as its director beginning in 2018. He says he came to Chattanooga last year to lead Preserve Chattanooga when the former director Ann Gray has retired.
“I fell in love with Chattanooga,” Morgan says. “It seems people really want to work together to make the city better.”
He says the band plans to bring Wine Over Water back to Chattanooga in October. The event is Preserve Chattanooga’s primary fundraiser.