Longtime Buckhead resident Wright Mitchell will lead historic conservation efforts throughout the state after being named the President and CEO of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Mitchell, a graduate of the Lovett School and founder of the Buckhead Heritage Society, will step into his new role September 5th to replace the Georgia Trust’s outgoing President and CEO Mark C. McDonald.

Mitchell said it is an “honor” to lead the organization, and he aims to continue build on the foundation set by McDonald’s 15 years of increasing membership, implementing new initiatives and working alongside local preservation groups in the state.  

The Georgia Trust is currently celebrating its 50th year. The organization’s efforts include protecting, revitalizing and preserving historic buildings and places throughout the state. One of its current efforts is to help preserve a historic lodge on Peachtree Battle Avenue.

Mitchell creates the Buckhead Heritage Society

Mitchell said his interest in history was sparked by his parents, also Buckhead residents, who took him to historic sites throughout the state, including Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Bloody Marsh site on St. Simons Island.

“I was very interested, even at a young age, in these events that had occurred in my own state,” Mitchell said. “It grew a fire in me, that grew into a passion, and I’ve been involved with it pretty much my entire life.”

Mitchell’s background includes a successful private practice law career in which he drew from his passion for history to specialize in civil litigation and historic preservation law.

In 2005, he founded the Buckhead Heritage Society, a nonprofit organization, and served as its volunteer president for 10 years. He currently serves as a board member for the organization. Mitchell said Buckhead did not have its own local historical society, and after speaking with local civic leaders at the time, there was a “consensus it was sorely needed.” Like the Georgia Trust, the Heritage Society aims to protect Buckhead’s historic resources.

The Heritage Society’s fist project, the restoration of Harmony Grove Cemetery, won the Georgia Trust’s Excellence in Rehabilitation Award in 2009, furthering his connection to the organization he will now lead as president and CEO. Mitchell also served on the Trust’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2012, including as vice chairman.

More recently, the Heritage Society was awarded the 2020 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award for its efforts to broker a deal with the City of Atlanta to relocate the Randolph-Lucas-Jones House from Buckhead to Ansley Park for its preservation.

The Georgia Trust, Buckhead Heritage Society aim to preserve historic Buckhead lodge

The Lodge at E. Rivers.

Mitchell’s historic conservation efforts will span the state in his new role, but among the projects he said will be supported by the Georgia Trust is the preservation of the lodge at the entrance of the Peachtree Battle neighborhood. The lodge was developed in the early 20th century by Eretus Rivers — from which E. Rivers Elementary School is named — that served as a sales office for Rivers’ realty company, Mitchell said. The building was later deeded to Fulton County and serves as a kindergarten. It is currently owned by Atlanta Public Schools.

Mitchell said APS has placed the building on its “disposal list,” and there are currently efforts to ensure its preservation. One of the challenges, Mitchell said, is there are deed restrictions placed on the property dictating it can also be used for specific purposes related to education, monumental or park uses.

“The group taking the lead is the Buckhead Heritage Society, but at the Georgia Trust, we always want to support local preservation group efforts,” Mitchell said. “It is certainly a building worth preserving, and we want make to make sure the deed is honored. Ultimately, we’d like to see APS and Buckhead Heritage Society sit down and figure out a way to preserve the building in the way it was intended.”

In addition to roles leading the Georgia Trust as an emeritus board member of the Buckhead Heritage Society, Mitchell is also a member of The Lovett School Board of Trustees. Previously, Wright served on the board of the Atlanta Preservation Center and was appointed to the Georgia Governor’s Mansion Executive Fine Arts Committee and City of Atlanta Sesquicentennial Civil War Commission.

Wright lives in a historic home in Buckhead with his wife, Antonia, and two children.