Young At Heart, Old In Spirit, Local Historic Preservation Group Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

Karelia Martinez Carbonell

Martinez Carbonell is the president of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables

On a Sunday in September, the Board of Directors of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables invited friends and benefactors to a celebration to mark several milestones, one being the group’s 30th anniversary. The event took place at the elegantly refurbished 1927 Paist & Steward-designed home of Coral Gables residents and HPACG members Jose Valdes-Fauli and Shed Boren. Thank you!

The affair, generously underwritten by Jose and Shed, also celebrated Coral gables founder George Merrick — with a surprise. Thanks to John Allen, director of the Coral Gables Museum, guests enjoyed a special viewing of the medal [reissued in 1995] bestowed on city founder George Merrick in 1927 when King Alphonso XIII knighted Merrick with the honorary title of “Don of the Order of Isabel La Catolica.” Displaying the Order of Isabel medal was significant to the historic preservation group as this year marks the 135th anniversary of Merrick’s birth.

Order of Isabel La Catolica Medal [Photography by SmashPixelStudio]

Aside from the anniversary and birthday celebrations, the event also included celebrating the generous donors who support HPACG’s mission with their charitable giving. A plaque recognizing the group’s George Giving Society benefactors was on display. This giving society acknowledges all donors who give $100 or more annually.

Karelia Martinez Carbonell, president of the association highlighted the many milestones and accomplishments attained throughout the group’s three decades. She was joined by attending board members Lisa Bennett,  Brett Gillis, and David Mitchell. The group has gained well-deserved bragging rights.

Established in 1991, HPACG joins the ranks of the 30-something: mature, yet youthful.  With a solid past and an eye to the future, the group continues its mission of promoting the importance of historic resources and their preservation.

The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables started out as the Historic Homeowners Association of Coral Gables and routinely provided owners of local historic houses with a resource list of contractors, tradesmen, and suppliers who could provide assistance with the renovation of historic houses. In 2008, the group embarked on a new direction and embraced a new mission prompting a name change: the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables (HPACG).

A brand is born

Shortly after the 2013 approval of HPACG as a tax-exempt charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service, the organization adopted a new logo created by member Bruce Fitzgerald, designed its first membership brochure, and established an annual giving campaign, the George Giving Society. Social media presence was enhanced by way of an updated design of its website and the addition of HPACG on Facebook.

For its young age, HPACG has achieved outstanding success in historic preservation efforts. In carrying out its mission, the HPACG has effectively communicated the value of historic preservation to its membership. Through its promotional activities, HPACG has exhibited leadership in issues of importance to historic preservation, and has established itself as one of the leaders in statewide preservation advocacy.

Taking an active part

The Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables has taken an active role in partnering with the City’s historic preservation efforts.* Members of the HPACG have been active in supporting applicants for Special Certificates of Appropriateness, variances from the Zoning Code, and determination of historic designation. Moreover, the HPACG disseminates information of the local tax incentives available to owners of historic properties.

Herbert Brito, former HPACG board member and past architectural historian for the National Register of Historic Places, observes, “Without reservation, it is highly apparent that the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables has demonstrated superlative achievement in the field of preservation and has espoused the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s ideal to save America’s historic places. The focus of HPACG, throughout its existence, is indicative of its desire to protect properties that convey special sense of time and place.”

Happy 30th Anniversary HPACG! 

A fun finale to the festivities. 

*The City of Coral Gables adopted its first Historic Preservation ordinance in 1973 in response to the community’s growing concern for safeguarding its irreplaceable historic resources. In 1984, a revised and expanded ordinance was enacted by the City Commission and made a part of the City Code. This ordinance established the Historic Preservation Board, and added further protection to local properties.

Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables (HPACG) is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to promote the understanding and importance of historic resources and their preservation. 

For additional information or to become a member, please visit      


2 thoughts on “Young At Heart, Old In Spirit, Local Historic Preservation Group Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

  1. Such a noteworthy event. As members of the HPACG, we are privileged to support this organization’s dedication protecting our historic legacy. I encourage members of our community to join this worthwhile organization.

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