La Mesa Historical Society holds annual meeting with forward-looking enthusiasm

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Volunteer organizations that are dedicated to preservation of historical information and artifacts plainly honor events in retrospect. But times change.

So, how to rectify that tension between respecting the past while acknowledging current perspectives and practices? The La Mesa Historical Society is striving to be up-to-date on how to be preservationists who keep accurate records of the history of La Mesa and enlist support in those efforts, by using modern methods of social interaction and media communication.

Volunteer organizations that are dedicated to preservation of historical information and artifacts plainly honor events in retrospect. But times change.

So, how to rectify that tension between respecting the past while acknowledging current perspectives and practices? The La Mesa Historical Society is striving to be up-to-date on how to be preservationists who keep accurate records of the history of La Mesa and enlist support in those efforts, by using modern methods of social interaction and media communication.

The group’s annual meeting on June 16, at the Nan Couts Cottage on the La Mesa Community Center grounds. This was the first of the organization’s yearly meetings to begin with a festive and fun light meal and hosted bar featuring local wines and beers. President Jim Newland said that, perhaps not surprisingly, although the society’s prior Saturday afternoon gatherings had attracted around 20 participants tops, this meeting had already attracted more than double that number to attend. 

As he welcomed attendees to open the business portion of the meeting as outgoing president, Newland noted wryly that some local preservation organizations recently have opted to dub themselves as “history center” instead of keeping to the usage of “historical society.” Newland further observed, “Here in La Mesa, we are recognizing traditions that honor the heritage of our community.”

With a nod toward incoming President Ken D’Angelo, Newland said, “We are bringing in new blood, which every service organization needs to do, because we have different specialties. This is a good group coming in.” D’Angelo, together with a new slate of society officers, was set to be elected by member vote that night.

La Mesa City Councilmember Kristine Alessio joined Newland at the podium for presentation of 2017 awards. Allesio is also a member of the historical society. The “History Maker” of the Year award went to Aaron Dean, developer of Sheldon’s Service Station, a breakfast and lunch eatery, and Boulevard Noodles, an Asian fusion dining spot, for his “positive influence” in remaking landmark La Mesa locations for new purposes. The La Mesa Historical Society Sponsor/Business of the Year was “the oldest, longest serving business in the community, La Mesa Lumber and Hardware, clocking in at an impressive 110 years of providing “great community service.” La Mesa Historic Preservationists of the Year were James and Charlene Craig, for restoration of the Frost house. And the La Mesa Historical Society Volunteer of the Year award was bestowed with pride to longtime volunteer Melody Andrews, who has proven “extremely dedicated” to the society’s preservation efforts.

Membership in the nonprofit society is available at various levels, from individual member status at $20 yearly, to a lifetime membership priced at $1,000 and over. The society’s McKinney House Museum and Archives are open on afternoons 1-4 p.m. every second and fourth Saturday of the month at 8369 University Avenue and by appointment, especially for group tours. More information can be acquired online at www.lamesahistoricalsociety.com or by phone at 619) 466-0197.

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