In 1967 the newly-formed Central Gardens Area Association, as it was then called, voted in its first president, Jean Marsh, for the first one-year term of the association. Fifty-one such selections have been made since then, with each new president taking the baton to uphold the core values of what architect Jim Williamson called “this gracious neighborhood.”
As written in the association’s 1967 constitution, these core values include: maintaining the quality and integrity of the homes located in the area; preserving its historical quality; and resisting encroachment for commercial or other purposes upon the homes in the area. These were not values motivated by exclusion or a lofty upper-class status; at the time of the drafting of the neighborhood’s constitution, they were composed for the very survival of the neighborhood.
Said the late Dorothy Snowden “Happy” Jones, “It had been (in 1966) the immediate threat to destroy the beauty of Belvedere Blvd, the proposed removal of the tree-lined median from the boulevard, that had ignited the neighborhood to action. This gave people a cause to rally around.”
Today we do not have to worry about such threats to the neighborhood. However we are, each of us, stewards of the neighborhood. With each new president and neighborhood board, it is our duty to take actionable steps to uphold the lasting integrity of the neighborhood.
Lasting integrity. It is why we have committees that oversee our neighborhood’s safety, historic architecture, greenspaces and infrastructure. It is why we continue to hold community events like our Central Gardens Home Tour and the Carr Avenue July 4 th Parade and why we hang wreaths around the holiday season. Located as we are in the heart of midtown and adjacent to Union Avenue, it is why our midtown relationships are so important in advocating for vibrancy in our surroundings. As residents, it is also why your engagement, involvement and membership dollars are so crucial in upholding the heritage of this elegant neighborhood.
As your new board president, I will honor these legacies and do my very best to carry the baton forward. In my year I will also be launching new efforts that I believe will engage the neighborhood, honor our history and help us carry our heritage forward. These include an alley crawl/party, new community-relations efforts, and the kickoff of the publication of a second volume of Barbara Viser’s landmark book, Stories of a Neighborhood.
I look forward to working with all of you as we do our part to uphold the graciousness that makes our neighborhood so special.
President of the Central Gardens Neighborhood Association
Central Gardens AssociationP.O. Box 41382 • Memphis, TN 38174-1382
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